How Are Legacy Donors Responding to Recession?

A friend of mine recently mentioned that his father, after reading yet another set of headlines about the Dow taking a nosedive, declared that he was going to change his will to remove each and every gift to charity.

It wasn’t so much that the father worried that there would be no money left for his kids but that, looking ahead into the future, he wondered for how long the stormy economy would damage his children’s  financial security.

I haven’t seen any reports of whether this is a trend. But uncertainty is certainly driving a lot of economic decisions these days.

That, and the knowledge that people can change their wills at any time, create added challenges for any nonprofit’s legacy or planned giving program.

What can you do in response? I would advise:

  • Don’t let up on your messaging about your group’s importance in fulfilling your donor’s fundamental interests, and your group’s ability to help them create a lasting legacy.
  • Never take legacy donors for granted. Find ways to celebrate their commitment and keep them advised about how other legacy gifts are being put to meaningful use.
  • Sign up for a planned giving seminar that will update you on the latest estate tax rules, so that you’ll understand when your donors might have a continued financial interest in reducing their estate through charitable giving.

And of course, batten down the hatches for the ride ahead.