Do you have a legacy opener?

When going into a meeting with someone who you want to introduce legacy giving to, do you have a “legacy opener”?

By that, I mean a question that challenges your prospect to discuss their feelings about their legacy with your organization.

In a mere few words, you can set in motion all of the thoughts and feelings that lead to a planned gift.

Sounds easy?

Hey readers – if you have an approach to getting your prospects to open up about how they envision their legacy gifts with your organization, please share!


  1. Mine is simple, soft and direct: “You have supported us for so many years, and it’s had an amazing impact. Have you ever considered leaving us a gift in your will?” The yes/no nature of this is like a flow chart for me, with their answers guiding my next question/response.

    Would love to hear what works for others.

  2. Several years ago I heard Pamela Davidson say that, as planned giving professionals, we have the best job in development. Why? Because our job is “to bring up ideas?” This may be more of an attitude but I have used this line with prospects and current annual fund donors. To a person they have been a bit taken aback – but they are also intrigued. It is not what they are expecting from me and it opens the door to some further conversation. Obviously it often is a process taking multiple visits but “sharing ideas” is donor-centered and forward looking.
    Keith Meyering

  3. Once the “solicitor” has acknowledged and demonstrated appreciation for their long term support, and has determined some of the potential interests and philanthropic motivations of the prospect related to your nonprofit, ask: “If you were in a position to make a legacy gift to accomplish some of what you just mentioned, and you had the resources, would you want to make a legacy gift or gift in perpetuity to our nonprofit”?

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