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An Interview with Notre Dame High School

Crescendo recently hosted a webinar titled Bequest Campaign Strategies. Through our preparation for that webinar, we had many calls with organizations across the country to learn how they are successfully marketing bequests. The topic of virtual educational programs was rather popular.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brother George C. Schmitz, CSC '65 from Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT. In March of this year, he partnered with their sister school to host a virtual webinar called “Leaving a Legacy for Catholic Education.”

They had four specific goals for the webinar –

Brother George’s experience may provide insight if your nonprofit is considering a legacy webinar. Here are some of the topics we discussed and excerpts from his insightful responses.

Holly: What marketing tools did you use to get the word out about the webinar?

Brother George: We did a joint postcard with our sister school. We each sent it to a selection of our own alumni and alumnae communities. Then, we did a lot of social media promotion using our Facebook platforms. It was advertised in a direct eblast through Crescendo’s platform. We also put it into our weekly enewsletter that goes to parents via our own platform.

Holly: Did an advisor present during the session? How did you select the advisor?

Brother George: We had an alumnus representing each school. For our part, Notre Dame High School, chose an advisor who was a financial manager and a partner in a firm. He is a very active member of our alumni association and we have used him in the past during face-to-face sessions too. He is actually the father of an incoming freshman.

Holly: What topics did you cover during the webinar?

Brother George: We reviewed the importance of having a will and an estate plan in place. We spent a lot of time on the “Six Basic Steps - Getting Started.” There is a picture of the slide below. We also looked at beneficiary designations and the IRA charitable rollover. We talked about why a person would consider making a legacy gift and shared some stories about our donors. At the end, we covered some unique giving opportunities we have available right now.


Holly: How are you planning to follow up with attendees?

Brother George: Everyone who attended the webinar, and even people who signed up for the webinar but did not attend, received a copy of our Wills Guide and a brochure that talks about bequests and beneficiary designations. They got both of those with a thank you letter.

I have already engaged in additional follow up with two of the attendees. I knew they were attending because they were particularly interested in doing something with us. One has been in my pipeline for quite a while. The other individual now seems more serious about setting up a scholarship fund. He has also connected with the advisor who was doing the presentation.

Holly: Would you consider the webinar to be a success?

Brother George: I always consider it a success when you get people to come because you are planting an idea with them. You are giving them something for free - your consultation.  They are showing interest in your mission. In the six years that I’ve been doing this, I know that this is not something that happens “tomorrow.” So, I consider the fact that they took the time to attend the webinar and that they are thinking about something as a success.

I will now keep track of how attendees respond to any emails that I send. Besides the breakdown of my alumni groups, I have a separate section which I call prospects. So, when somebody attends a webinar or comes in for an actual face-to-face meeting (like we had in previous years), I then add them to that prospects list. When I am sending out my regular enewsletter, which I do about 8-10 times a year, I always track whether they are opening it and whether they are clicking through. This gives me a pretty good idea of where they are and how I can follow up.

Holly: Do you have any tips or advice for someone planning a webinar?

Brother George: Advertise as much as you can and point out the benefits of attending the webinar. Put something out there saying, “Anyone who attends the webinar will receive a FREE copy of our Wills Guide.” You know, a freebie or something to thank them for attending.


I want to thank Brother George for sharing his thoughts and experiences in hosting a “Leaving a Legacy” webinar. Have you hosted a virtual event recently? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Holly Omlor

By Holly Omlor
Assistant Vice President - Education, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

Mike Caldwell says:
May 3, 2021 5:32 AM PT

This sounds like a great idea. Do you know how long (timewise) the webinar was?

Holly says:
May 3, 2021 1:02 PM PT

The webinar in total was about an hour - a 45 minute presentation followed by questions and answers.

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