I had a great time at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners Conference in Toronto. (You can read what Dad had to say about it here.) I was one of four parent and child combos, where both were professionals attending the conference. That intergenerational thing appears to be catching on, which made me happy.

The big city

The big city, captured by Dave.

I went to the conference with specific goals, including that I wanted to take note of how people talk about legacy giving or planned giving. I wanted to find out the words they used and see if there were better ways for me to speak about this topic.

And I found out that it matters a lot about what you talk about, and it doesn’t matter at all what you talk about.

Let me explain.

The most important thing was to know your Why. This is more important than your planned giving lingo. Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, was referenced many times in the workshops I attended. (I recommend his Ted Talk, only 20 minutes and a powerful summary of the key concepts.) Speaking about legacy giving works best if you can speak from the heart, using both statistics and stories about the vision and accomplishments of your organization. It was highlighted over and over again that speaking about why a planned gift is beneficial for your organization was the most important thing.

The other amazing thing was the way that the professionals at the conference went into minute detail into the changes in recent tax law and how it benefited (or didn’t benefit) their clients. These were people with the Canada Revenue Agency on speed dial. I certainly had to work to understand some of the discussion details, but I came away with the knowledge that there is a community of experts connected through the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and they know all the knitty-gritty so you and I don’t have to.

It was also a common theme for the presenters on technical subjects to suggest at the end of the session that they’d be happy to talk more about it as it pertained to your specific case. In a side conversation, I learned that some of them even ENJOY talking about the tax law. It’s the kind of thing you can only geek out with a room full of people at an industry conference.

I know I’m not one of THEM, but I’m glad to know they are out there. I’ll just stick with my Why, thanks.

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