It’s working, it’s working! Here at Tiny Frog Strategies, we know that legacy fundraising is a project for those not afraid of the long haul. It takes time to see results, usually LOTS of time. So when we hear about organizations that have participated in Legacy Jump Start and have some demonstrated success, we know we have to share their stories to provide hope for those at the beginning of their legacy fundraising journey. In today’s post, Wendy Francis, Executive Director at the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation shares her experience.
Up until now, gifts to the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation largely have come about because of word of mouth or general awareness about us and our work. The Foundation rarely has had to ask for gifts. In fact, in 2010 the Foundation was fortunate to receive a large unrestricted bequest that dramatically increased the number and size of community grants and provided operational stability for many years. Our good fortune notwithstanding, I suspected that by not taking proactive action, we were missing out on future gifts that would allow us to have even more impact in our community.
The Community Foundation partnered with Tiny Frog Strategies to offer the Legacy Jump Start program to charitable organization holding endowments with us. Part of our mission is to inspire community leadership, and we could see that helping community organizations grow their financial resources through legacy giving was to everyone’s benefit. Three of our committee and staff members attended the opening workshop and at the end were keen to implement this strategy for the Foundation’s benefit.
Tiny Frog Strategies helped us hone our messages about the Foundation’s work and the benefits of leaving a legacy gift. After several meetings and revisions, our Fund Development Committee approved sending out the resulting letter and brochure. We ultimately mailed this package to 85 significant donors inviting them to consider making a gift in their will to the Foundation. However, we were unable to follow up with a phone call, as recommended by Tiny Frog Strategies, because the Foundation’s history of not asking for gifts has established a pattern that is challenging to change.
To date, we have received six responses from individuals or couples confirming that they have left or intend to leave a gift to the Foundation in their wills. This is a 7% response rate, well above the industry standard of 3%. Our small team’s persistence, knowing we had the support of Tiny Frog Strategies behind us, kept us going until we had the full support of our committee.
We would not have initiated this campaign without Tiny Frog Strategies. The instruction and examples they provided made the process of developing our own materials relatively easy. We would recommend Legacy Jump Start to other organizations facing resistance to the idea of asking for gifts directly. We now know from our own experience that existing donors are highly motivated to leave a future gift when asked. I am pleased and gratified that we got as many positive responses as we did.
Facing similar challenges at your organization? Check out the first couple of lessons of Legacy Jump Start right here – who knows, it could be your organization’s success that we share next!