A recent blog suggested that the multitrillion dollar inheritance from one generation to the next was really an illusion. The author said his organization has not seen a great spike in bequests, despite being well into the Havens and Schervish report’s time-frame for that projected $41 trillion. He had done the numbers for both his organization and his area and concluded the windfall was not there.
Is it an illusion? Not according to many. Institution after institution receives bequests from people that are not in their donor database. Support has come without a meeting with the fundraiser or an identifiable ask. But, we ask, is legacy giving worth it? Are bequests on the rise? Are people living longer? After the economic downturn(s), will there be enough in the estates to fulfill the bequests?
I will have to let the pundits fight it out. While I can’t speak to the universal trends, the organizations that I know who receive income from bequests are transformed often enough for me to keep the faith in legacy giving.
Will there be a windfall? One CEO’s small charity has moved in new ways after a single generous bequest of $500,000. Another charity was overwhelmed by a bequest of an entire island. Split three ways with two other charities, it was still enough to call a special annual meeting to discuss the possibilities now available. Today, one gift of a house in the right neighbourhood in Vancouver is considered a mammoth windfall.
Is the multitrillion dollar inheritance an illusion? Well, depends on how you count it. Is it still worth investing in your legacy giving program? Well, the odds of winning the lottery dramatically increase if you actually buy a ticket.