August is National Make-A-Will Month and an incredible opportunity for nonprofits to increase their planned gifts.
The easiest planned gift for your nonprofit’s supporters to make is to leave a portion of their estate to your organization as a bequest in their will. Even if that gift is only 1% of a donor’s total estate, it can have a huge impact for your nonprofit’s future. The average planned gift in the United States is between $35,000 and $70,000.
And only about 30% of Americans say they have a will, which means that most of your supporters should make one. If you’re part of a planned giving or fundraising team at a nonprofit, it’s time for you to make the most of this annual event. Even if you don't have a full planned giving campaign devoted to Make-A-Will Month, you should at least promote it several times via email, social media, and other communications.
Here are three tips for you to market Make-A-Will Month to your supporters and capture more planned gifts.
1. Dispel common myths around making a will.
Make-A-Will Month is the perfect moment to demystify will-making for your supporters. When you communicate about making a will, you should make it clear that everyone needs one — even if they plan to live to 150. Here’s what you can say to your supporters to dispel these common myths around creating a last will and testament:
Myth: Wills are only important if you have a lot of money or property.
Fact: This is false. There are many reasons to have a will. Wills can do quite a bit more than just name who gets your money and property. With a will, you can also nominate guardians for your minor children, name caretakers for your pets, leave instructions for digital assets, write your funeral wishes, and more. A will can also save your loved ones the time, money, and stress that comes with lengthy, expensive probate court proceedings.
Myth: My family knows what I want, so I don’t need a will.
Fact: Your family might know what you want, but they won’t get to make any decisions for you if you don’t write them down in a will. Instead, a court will make those decisions based on local laws. And the court process can be long and cost your loved ones a lot of money from your estate.
Myth: Writing a will is a long, complicated, and expensive process.
Fact: Not anymore! There are a number of online will-making tools out there today. Most of them charge for their services. But on FreeWill, you can fill out, download, and print your will for free in less than 20 minutes. Then all you have to do is sign your will with at least two witnesses and keep it safe.
Download this free graphic to share with your nonprofit’s supporters:
2. Make it easy & free for everyone to make a will.
As mentioned above, writing a will can be easy and free. But most people don’t know this. Or, if they made a will years ago, they might not think they need to do it again. When you promote Make-A-Will Month, don’t just remind your supporters about the importance of creating or updating their wills — give them the tools to do so.
At FreeWill, we’ve made free wills accessible to everyone by partnering with inspiring nonprofit organizations. Our partners use FreeWill to present their supporters with a branded link to make a free will (while also encouraging them to give a gift in their will and tracking these bequests). But even if you’re not a FreeWill partner, you can still share a link to FreeWill with your supporters. This will make the process so much easier and more accessible to everyone.
The traditional path to make a will is long, arduous, and can be pricey. People have to find a lawyer, possibly travel to them, have a conversation, go through follow-up meetings, wait for the lawyer to compile all their documents, and then pay fees. But on FreeWill, it’s possible to make a legally valid, self-help will in three steps: fill out our online questionnaire, print the documents, and sign and keep them safe.
Here’s a quick graphic that shows how easy this is — feel free to download it and share.
Plus, during the questionnaire, we ask will-makers if they would consider leaving a gift to charity. This is totally optional, but if they decide they want to, all they have to do is write in your nonprofit’s name. If you’re curious whether you’ve already received bequests on our platform, you can connect with our team to learn more.
3. Emphasize the lasting impact of planned gifts for both you and your donors.
People generally don’t want to think about their own mortality, which can make planned giving difficult to talk about. So when you approach marketing for Make-A-Will Month, you should emphasize how making a will and leaving a gift to your organization benefits both you and your donors. Share:
- Why your mission matters more than ever and how a planned gift will impact your nonprofit’s future;
- How making a will protects their loved ones; and
- How leaving a gift in a will is a powerful way to create a legacy — without costing them anything during their lifetime.
Here is a newsletter insert template that is available among our free email marketing templates for donor outreach during a crisis. We’ve edited it here to put it in the context of Make-A-Will Month.
Protect what matters most during Make-A-Will Month
With so much uncertainty at the moment, our work to [MISSION] is of vital importance. And while you may be unsure of a way to support [ORGANIZATION NAME] given this crisis, creating a planned gift is a powerful way to make a lasting impact and legacy with us that won’t cost you anything today.
During Make-A-Will Month, we hope you will join the many people who have included our organization in their will, trust, or beneficiary designations. Writing a will is one of the most important steps to take, though understandably scary or uncomfortable given the current crisis. But now more than ever, it’s important to protect what matters most to you and have a plan in place.
You can read more about these options on our website. Or get started on protecting what matters most by using this free will-writing tool from FreeWill.