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 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 on your nonprofit’s future. The average planned gift given via FreeWill is more than $50,000.
Yet only about 30% of Americans say they have a will, which means that most of your supporters likely don’t have one yet. If you’re part of a planned giving, development, 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 communication channels.
Here are three tips to promote Make-A-Will Month to your supporters and capture more planned gifts.
1. Dispel common myths about 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 about 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 of 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 several 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 for your nonprofit, 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 significantly easier and more accessible for everyone.
The traditional path to making a will is long, arduous, and usually 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.
- Sign and keep them safe.
Here’s a quick graphic that shows how easy this is — feel free to download it and share it with your donors during your Make-A-Will Month marketing campaign.
During the questionnaire, we ask will-makers if they would consider leaving a gift to charity. This is completely optional, but if they decide they want to, all they have to do is provide 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.
When discussing planned giving and promoting Make-A-Will Month, anchor your communications with these essentials:
- 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
- How leaving a gift in a will is a powerful way to create a legacy — without costing them anything during their lifetime.
Here is an example of a standalone email you can send your supporters to encourage them to make a will in August, including a small legacy ask.
Protect what matters most during Make-A-Will Month
August is National Make-A-Will Month, so I wanted to reach out with a free resource that thousands have already used to take care of their families: an online will-writing tool.
This is a free, easy way to protect the people and communities you love. I know that writing a will is one of those tasks that can fall by the wayside — but luckily, you can use this tool to create yours in under 20 minutes.
Everyone needs a will, whether they’re 18 or 80. And there’s no better moment than now to find some peace of mind in planning for the future.
While you’re writing your will, you’ll also have the opportunity to join the amazing people who have helped [mission] by including legacy gifts in their wills.
Promoting Make-A-Will Month can have a lasting impact on your nonprofit.
By effectively marketing Make-a-Will Month to your donors each August, you can build a more active planned giving program to support your nonprofit and drive your mission forward for years to come.
Remember to educate your donors about the importance of creating their wills and the incredible impact that bequests can have on your organization and community. Provide helpful resources and tools like FreeWill, and you’ll see some exciting results.
Keep exploring and learning more about planned giving with these additional resources:
- Make-a-Will Month: How urgency drove action & raised $444M in legacy gifts
- The benefits of planned giving for nonprofits and donors
- How to talk to donors about planned giving: 10 tips
- 8 types of planned gifts your nonprofit should know