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Blog » 25 Fundraising Ideas for Churches: Legacy Gifts: Planting the Seeds

25 Fundraising Ideas for Churches: Legacy Gifts: Planting the Seeds

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In this series of 25 fundraising ideas for churches, we’re sharing ways to grow your giving program. Today’s idea focuses on how to position your church for estate gifts.

The single largest gift most donors will ever make is their legacy gift: the contribution they can make as part of their estate plans after their passing. These gifts can take the form of a bequest, a property, a gift of stock, or even naming the church as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. Members who leave a significant gift to the church can help fund a long-term endowment or provide stabilizing funds to pay off debt. These gifts can be transformational on so many levels, and they can be the foundation of funding the church’s operations and ministries far into the future.

But We Have to Plant the Seeds

Churches have to educate members about planned gifts and estate planning. Here are three key ways to get that started:

1) Make Planned Giving Part of Your Annual Stewardship Campaigns

Ask members if they have remembered the church in their will or estate plan, and if so, to let you know that they’ve done so. You want to be able to thank donors who’ve pledged an estate gift and work with them on how they’d like those funds to be put to use. And want to tell the stories of these donors and why they want to leave a legacy gift to your ministry.

2) Offer Estate/Will Planning Help

The target here is not necessarily retirees: Couples with young children need to start thinking about guardianship for their kids and estate planning. Bringing in a trusted expert to offer some free guidance can be a tremendous benefit to those who need some simple legal documents in place. A gathering hosted by the church also allows you to encourage members to think about making a legacy gift to the ministries and organizations they care about as they plan for the future of their loved ones after their passing.

3) Provide Estate Planning Materials

Your denominational or local community or faith-based foundation can be a great partner in offering educational materials on planned or estate gifts. You don’t have to be an expert on charitable giving instruments – you just need to find trusted partners who can provide information for your congregants.

Members who leave a portion of their estate to the church make an impact for perpetuity. It’s a way to advance the kingdom long after their passing and ensure the ministries and passions they supported in life continue to benefit others.  If you’d like help building a planned giving strategy or any other stewardship endeavor, our partnership with ACST enables us to come alongside churches looking for guidance.

About Tim Smith

Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development.  Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of  Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.

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