Connecting With Donors Through a Legacy Society
Does your organization have a legacy society? If not, it is never too late to get one started! Creating a legacy society has benefits for your nonprofit and your donors. It offers a great opportunity to build a community, properly steward donors who have made a planned gift commitment and it creates an exciting way to thank and recognize donors for their support. In addition, you can use a legacy society as a marketing tool to cultivate future planned gifts. You can promote the benefits of joining your legacy society through your various marketing channels and create real excitement for joining your legacy society.
How to Create a Program
When creating a new legacy society, your team should begin by deciding on a name. The name will be the foundation of what the society will represent. For example, Flagler College’s society is named after a donor that made a significant gift to the school. The Henry M. Flagler Heritage Society recognizes individuals that name their college as a beneficiary of a bequest, estate plan, or other planned gift.
Your team will also need to establish the requirements for becoming a member and the donor benefits. Some organizations will decide to have one legacy society, while others may have a tiered membership. A tiered membership segments donors by donations made. A member who is top tier may be given advantages to special events or be included within the naming of certain scholarships, buildings, or programs. Nicole Pece, the Director of Major and Planned Gifts from Flagler College, shared that special perks for their legacy society members include a lapel pin of the society logo, a listing in their “honor roll” of donors in their annual report, invitations to special events and recognitions at events.
Once the fundamentals of your new society have been determined, then you can start marketing to your donors! This is the fun part, as it is an opportunity to further engage with those interested in making an impact. Here are some ways to effectively announce and market the society:
Creating a simple email announcement is an easy way to quickly inform your donors of the new opportunity. You can easily track the eNewsletter analytics to see who is opening the email and follow-up with those individuals directly.
Nicole and her team focus on sending a quarterly eNewsletter to their legacy society members. They also send out a mailer twice per year to highlight their “Planning for the Future: The Financial and Gift Planning Newsletter for Friends of Flagler College.” Each year, they set a goal for the number of members and dollar amount that they want to reach. This past semester, they received a gift from an alumna who included them as the beneficiary of their IRA.
Flagler College - Henry M. Flagler Society
The planned giving website is another great tool to feature the new society. The website should be the main hub for your donors to locate any information related to planned giving. The University of Mississippi added an action button for easy access to their donors. Since it is one of the main places on the website that donors will be visiting, it is a great idea to include a section announcing the new society. As you continue to develop the society, you can create a custom web page with member events and information.
University of Mississippi – The 1848 Society
In addition, you can highlight your legacy society by sending out a print advertisement or include it as a downloadable option within your planned giving site. Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital created a custom Legacy Society brochure that was available to download from their website. Some of your donors may prefer a printed document so that they can look into it further during their own time. Finding out the preferences for how your donors prefer to receive information is a great way to stay connected.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation - 1891 Legacy Society
Adding additional resources, such as a Legacy Society, to your program is a great way to further connect with your donors. If you need any assistance with getting started or making updates, please reach out to your GiftLegacy coordinator at any time.