Wills and Beneficiary Designations as Planned Gifts


As a nonprofit organization, you rely on the generosity of your donors to carry out your mission and make a positive impact in your community. One way that donors can support your organization is through planned giving, which involves leaving a gift through specific financial vehicles or legal documents such as wills or trusts, or by using beneficiary designations on certain financial accounts. If you want to encourage your donors to consider making a planned gift using these tools, it’s important to provide an educational infrastructure. This extra service can help donors better understand how these unique gifts can be structured and how easy it is to use wills and beneficiary designations to leave meaningful future gifts.

Core Benefits of Planned Giving

One of the key benefits of planned giving is that it allows donors to make a significant impact on your organization and the causes they care about without having to make a current dollar outlay. By leaving a gift through their will or trust, or by designating your organization as a beneficiary of a financial account, donors can support your organization for years to come, even after they are gone. This can be especially meaningful for donors who are passionate about your mission and want to leave a legacy of giving. Marta Blanco, Founder & President of Sofia’s Hope, explains. “This year, Sofia’s Hope celebrates 10 years of making a difference in the childhood cancer community.  Planned giving tools and resources are an important facet of our long-term viability.  As we look to the future, the role of planned giving is mission-critical to fortify the legacy of our village, for those who believe in our work, and for the families we serve.”

In addition to the emotional satisfaction that planned giving can bring to donors, it can also offer practical benefits. For example, planned gifts can provide tax advantages, such as a charitable deduction on the donor’s tax return for the value of the gift. Donors should consult with a financial advisor or attorney to determine the tax implications of their planned gift, as the specific rules and limitations can vary depending on the type of gift and the donor’s circumstances.

Planned giving can also offer flexibility for donors. For example, a donor can leave a gift to your organization through their will or trust at a time that is convenient for them, and they can specify the specific assets or amount they want to leave to the charity. Donors can also change their planned gift at any time if their circumstances change. This can be especially useful for donors who want to support your organization but may not have the financial resources to make a significant gift right away.

Wills and Beneficiary Designations

There are several types of planned gifts that donors can make, including bequests through a will or trust, beneficiary designations on financial accounts, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and charitable lead trusts. It’s important for donors to understand the differences between these options and the benefits they offer to both the donor and the organizations they support. 

To educate your donors about the value and benefits of planned giving, consider offering resources such as website guides, videos, FAQs, brochures, webinars, or one-on-one consultations with a financial advisor or attorney who can help donors plan their gifts. You can also share stories of how planned gifts have made an impact in your organization and the community you serve (client testimonial videos), as this can help inspire donors to consider making a gift of their own.

William “Bill” Moore, President & CEO of Zoo Miami Foundation, doubles down on the importance of communication with donors around the value of planned gifts. “Zoo Miami Foundation recognizes the importance of a well-communicated planned giving program that allows donors to give through wills, beneficiary designations and other vehicles. Communication and education are the keys to success.” 

Helping Donors Take Action

Ultimately, the key to encouraging planned giving through wills and beneficiary designations is to build relationships with your donors and cultivate a sense of community around your organization. By regularly communicating with your donors and keeping them informed about the impact of their gifts, you can inspire them to support your organization in a way that is meaningful and impactful. By taking the time to plan their giving using wills and designations, donors can make a lasting difference in your organization and the community you serve. LifeLegacy can help you build a planned giving strategy using online wills and associated documents. Contact Jordan Cassidy today at jordan@lifelegacy.io.

Author: Craig Simms

Author: Craig Simms


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