August is National Make-a-Will Month

Did you know August is National Make-a-Will month? We have to admit that isn’t as enticing as National Pizza or National Cookie Month, but it is certainly a topic that warrants further discussion.  Especially when you consider studies have shown that while close to 60% of Americans believe estate planning is important, just over 30% have a will. Our question is “what are you doing to help your donors with their estate planning?”  

We realize development departments can be understaffed and between direct mailings, campaign management, donor relationship building and event planning, many development departments can’t imagine adding one more thing to the “to-do” list. We aren’t suggesting your department needs to become estate planning experts, however, we do think it is in your best interest to provide donors with the tools they need to make the right decision for them. Remember that 9% of the approximately $500 billion philanthropic industry is composed of bequests, so the inability to discuss planned giving with your donors can be debilitating for implementing your nonprofit’s strategic plan. And, of course, bequests are always important when considering a capital campaign.

There are many reasons individuals give for not having a will, ranging from the belief that one doesn’t have “enough” money to being unsure of how to start a will. That is where you can come in. A quick Google search leads to several sources to help with planning and writing a will, many providing templates to fill out.  Equipping donors with useful information then encouraging them to seek financial advice can lead to a gift to your organization.  Many donors would welcome the opportunity to have a positive effect on an organization they support beyond their lifetime.  

While it is difficult to know exactly what to do to inspire donors to include your organization in their estate plans, providing them with helpful resources is a great place to start.