Responding To Donor Objections To Making Bequest Gifts
As you may already know, the most effective bequest marketing programs focus on inspirational storytelling, simple language and powerful testimonials from relatable voices.
Perhaps the most essential component of successful bequest marketing campaigns is understanding donors’ objections to making bequests. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to directly address them in your bequest marketing materials.
There are several objections that donors have consistently identified in multiple market research studies and focus groups. Let’s examine the five most common concerns:
1. I don’t want to think about my demise
People just don’t like to think about dying and their own death. In fact, when people are confronted with their mortality, it triggers an automatic reaction to avoid the thought altogether. It’s best to broach the subject by discussing bequest gifts as an expression of an individual’s personal values and deeply held beliefs and how these gifts are a way to ensure these continue into the future. You can also spend some time asking your donors to think about their connection to your cause and how a gift in their will could be used to memorialise a loved one. For example, a bequest gift is a wonderful way to honour a parent who may have struggled with the disease that your charity raises research funds for or even a beloved pet that was rescued from your organisation’s local shelter.
2. My kids will hate me.
Almost always, making arrangements for children and grandchildren is the first consideration in a person’s will. However, donors often don’t immediately recognise that their children will likely be grown and well-established by the time their will comes into force. The same is usually true of their grandchildren. Donors of average and modest means also underestimate their estate’s value, often excluding their homes in the quick mental calculations they make. Use your bequest marketing materials to address these issues. Have one of your testimonial donors share how initially they were concerned about ensuring they made appropriate arrangements for their children, and how during that process they were pleased to discover there would be enough available to make a meaningful gift to their favourite charity. Prompting donors to think about the ‘age and stage’ of their most important heirs and a gentle reminder about the value of their home and (perhaps their family’s bach) will help move them forward and consider a gift in their will to support your cause.
3. It’s complicated and expensive.
This objection can be part of that innate reaction to avoid the thought of personal mortality as well as genuine uncertainty about the process and cost. Bequest marketing materials can easily deal with this objection by having other donors share their personal experience with the process, highlighting how it was simple, painless and bore no few or no additional costs.
4. Only rich people make gifts to charities, and I’m not a rich person.
First, don’t use the word ‘legacy’ when discussing bequest giving. Market research in my home base of North America has consistently revealed that donors feel this word only applies to wealthy individuals. For individuals of average or modest means, the word ‘legacy’ conjures images of well-known donor names on hospital wings and the sides of buildings on university campuses. Use ‘gift in will’ or ‘bequest’ instead (though some recent research in the United States demonstrated that the use of bequest when discussing these types of gifts actually suppressed response to bequest marketing campaigns). Your job will be to show the donor that ordinary people, people just like them, make arrangements for gifts to charities in their wills all the time. This is most easily accomplished by sharing the stories and testimonials of donors that are similar to them. Share stories and testimonials from nurses, bus drivers, government office workers and public school teachers. By avoiding the profiles of international financiers, European royalty and shipping magnates you will demonstrate to your donors that work-a-day people can and do make a difference for your cause through bequest gifts. Think about who your average donor’s neighbours and loved ones are. These are the people they relate to best. And once they can see themselves in the people who are making bequests to your charity, they will begin to realise that this is a giving option that makes sense for them, too.
5. You are just going to fritter away my gift
A bequest is the most personal and momentous gift a donor will likely ever make. They want to ensure that their wishes will be honoured and that their donation will be carefully managed and used in the way they intended. You can reassure donors by offering evidence of your charity’s history, effectiveness and progress on the issues most important to your loyal and passionate supporters. Show them you have a plan for the next 15, 20 or even 25 years. And then tell them how their bequest gift will help achieve that plan. It’s also a wise idea to build trust by being transparent about your organisation’s financial management and oversight.
Knowing the common concerns donors have about making bequest gifts to charities and addressing them effectively and respectfully will help ensure you inspire your donors to include your organisation in their estate plans. And that is a winning strategy for everyone.
David Kravinchuk, Chief Advice Dispenser of Fundraising Pharmacy
FINZ newz viewz, June 2015