“I just don’t understand why we weren’t included in the will. They were devoted members of our congregation, were generous with us in so many ways, I thought they would include a bequest to us. Why didn’t they make a legacy gift to our church? What could we have done differently?” Frequently the two questions at the end are the beginning of a conversation with a pastor or lay leader wishing to make legacy giving a bigger part of a church’s future. The leadership senses a missed opportunity. Perhaps the greatest gift the donor’s have left the church is the motivation to create a comprehensive planned giving program for future donors.
For me the first step is to better understand the variety of reasons the beloved congregants may have chosen another charity. Perhaps there was confidence the organization would impact others. It may have been they were passionate about the mission. They probably had frequent contact with the organization’s leader. At some point they have been involved in shaping the organization’s vision. There is one thing I am certain of, the charitable organization ultimately receiving the gift had a well developed plan for legacy gifts and frequently shared this comprehensive approach with others. They received a legacy gift simply because they dared to ask. The Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation just developed a new seminar program for churches to better understand legacy giving. “Why People Don’t Leave Your Church a Legacy Gift” is designed to first understand a donor’s motivations and then develop action steps within the Church to address the donor’s needs. During this fast paced seminar, attendees participate in creating simple action steps the church can immediately take to empower legacy giving. But what good is a seminar program if it’s not supported during church implementation? Well after the seminar, as your church implements the action steps, free tools are available to support your church. All tools will be located on our legacy giving website and include articles, pre-printed materials, a weekly newsletter, ongoing coaching and much more.
To experience this program, plan to attend the first seminar at Holy Cross UMC in Reading PA. If it’s too far away, explore the opportunity to host a local seminar for churches in your area. My best advice is to begin the process of developing legacy giving in your church today, before you call and ask me “why didn’t they make a legacy gifts to our church?”
For more information please call the Foundation at 800-828-9093 Ext 1008