What moves people to add any charities to their estate plans?

blog post version_069As promised in my previous post, I plan to slowly release different data points from Russell James’ recent webinar “WHAT THE DECLINE OF WILLS AND ESTATE PLANS MEANS FOR PLANNED GIFT MARKETING” (click to view webinar) which looked at data from a long-term (15+ years) health and retirement study that also tracked attitudes and actions regarding charitable estate intentions.  The study involved over 25,000 respondents who answered questions every two years about a series of health and retirement issues; over 10,000 respondents passed away during the study giving us plenty of pre- and post-mortem data points never seen before in the planned giving world.

Look at the top ten factors to cause someone to put charity in their estate plans.  7 out of 10 have to do with coming to terms with one’s mortality.  In other words, testamentary planned giving (bequests) happen when people realize they will not live forever.

Now take a look at the top ten factors for REMOVING charity from one’s will:

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The exact same 7 factors for adding charities were in the top ten for removing charities!  Basically, this seems to tell us that anything that causes someone to address their estate plans – most likely coming from a realization of one own mortality – is a cause for potential change.

What does this mean for nonprofit planned giving programs?  Well, these data points should at a minimum teach fundraisers about when they should talk to prospects about planned giving.  The problem is that waiting until these death awakening moments happen may be too late.  Lots to think about here.

Stay tuned for more interesting findings to come!

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