How to Maximize Year-End Giving | Iowa United Methodist Foundation

Year-end giving
October 8, 2021

October 18-24 is Estate Planning Awareness Week. It’s no secret that bequests from wills and estate plans are a major source for church and non-profit donations. We compiled some ideas for how you can maximize the week’s potential, and integrate it with your year-end giving campaign. Ideas originally published by Nathan Stelter.

  1. Share the stats: Prospects are likely to relate to the numbers. They like to feel like they are not alone. For instance, it may be comforting to learn only 1 in 3 American adults has a will, or that there has been an increase in people who say they don’t know how to get a will. (These stats come from a 2021 study of 2,500 adults by End your communication by offering a way to support your prospects in creating a plan. For instance, you could recommend the Our Gift to You program offered by the Foundation.
  2. Communicate the ease and flexibility of giving: This may be the missing piece that inspires a person to include a gift to your church in their will. Use real life stories that confirm “people like me do things like this.” Prospects may not be aware of all the options for giving, such as bequests, IRA rollovers, charitable trusts, gifts of stock, etc. They may not know if your church has an endowment already set up, or that they can help create a new one. Make sure to stress flexibility so donors know they can change their gift up until the estate plan goes into effect.
  3. Make it clear that estate planning is more than a will: an estate plan has at least four documents, and asking potential donors if they have all four can induce them to reach out and make sure theirs is complete and meets their goals. The four documents are: a last will and testament and/or trust, durable power of attorney for finances, durable power of attorney for health care and a living will or advanced directive.
  4. Remind your congregation wills are for everyone: many people believe that if you don’t have big assets there is no point to making a will. Let them know what is considered an asset – even $500 in a savings account is an asset; a car or home that’s paid off is an asset; meaningful personal possessions are assets. Remind them that even small assets left to a beloved cause can make a big difference. Another barrier is the thought that a will doesn’t seem urgent. Communicate the importance of making sure children are cared for by the people they want as guardians, and that it CAN happen to anyone, so it’s important to be prepared.

If you need help getting started developing your estate plan, reach out to us! We are also happy to offer workshops for your congregation or finance committee on how to best inspire giving.