The Right Way to Create a Legacy Society

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Written by Alex Comfort, CFRE

It has been traditional, and usually short-lived, to form a special group for planned giving donors. Obviously, the term “legacy society” connotes a group of people who want to be remembered forever. Generally, all known planned givers are invited to come to lunch or brunch or (God help me) I even tried an “English Tea” one time, once a year.

“Enlightened” programs even invited friends or interested parties to come to the meetings to be introduced to some concept of planned giving. Unfortunately, many charities invite some local attorney or “expert” to talk about charitable remainder trusts. I have NEVER heard one of these experts present this stuff in a way that normal people can understand.

So, try this. Advertise this yearly event as a “Donor and Friends” thank you party. Make it fun and more like a pep rally. Get a little live music somehow. INVITE THE WORLD!

Go ahead and make up a name for the group. Generally, it is best to use the name of a deceased, lovable, loyal and well-known supporter. Maybe the “Grace L. Ferguson Society” (thank you, Bob Newhart. Anyone but me remember that name from the Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Company??)

Now, the thing to do is have a meeting to thank donors and spend no more than 20 minutes on a planned giving topic like:

1. Why everyone who has children or who is over 50 needs a will

2. The Charitable Gift Annuity – use a $10,000 example.

3. The importance of basic estate planning that your charity can offer – just basic stuff before they proceed to an estate-planning attorney.


It is important for you to have supreme courage in all of this. You know more than you realize, and you know how to talk to your donors. If you feel you need help, call us here at Keller-Ferguson Associates and we can help you with this.

In these last three blogs I have tried to underscore why a basic planned giving program is so important. Your donor “pool” is about to decrease. Donors have much less incentive to give.  Planned gifts are the way to get the largest gift from your current donors.


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