It’s Make-A-Will Month

August is National Make-A-Will Month, an incredible opportunity for your nonprofit to increase its legacy or 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.

Yet it’s highly likely that your donors don’t know how to create a will. They need your guidance. In fact, six in ten parents either don’t have a will or have one that’s out of date.


The Wood Library of Canandaigua, New York managed the matter proactively by creating this brochure . The Library offers it to you, our readers, as an example to replicate for yourselves. The brochure outlines the steps your donors need to take to include you in their will.

I recommend emailing your own brochure, with a cover letter, to your donors every Sunday morning through the month of August. It’s best, however, to focus just on donors over age 55 who have a history of giving regularly to your nonprofit. If you’re managing your major donors more personally, then excluding them from that email might be wise.

The Timing is Right

The CV19 pandemic has shown us how fragile life is, so your words of empathy about protecting loved ones through estate planning will resonate well. Because of the pandemic, many people are taking action to review and update their will, a job which is often put off until a significant life event occurs.

Top Three Misconceptions/Truths

Here are three misconceptions for which donors especially need guidance because they might get in the way of getting their plans in order. These points can be usefully addressed in your cover letter.

1. I wrote my will 20 years ago, so I’m set!

Think about everything that has changed in the past 20 years, let alone in the past 24 months! Have you acquired property? Do you have children? Do your children have children? Have you acquired a new pet? Life changes quickly, so it’s recommended that you update your will every five years to reflect these changes.

2. I don’t have an estate, so I don’t need a will!

You don’t have to own a villa In Italy to need an estate plan. It’s important to have a plan in place for all the things and people that matter to you. This could be anything from who will take care of your social media accounts, or who you want to receive a notable family heirloom. Without plans in place, it can be difficult and complicated for your loved ones to make these decisions.

3. Estate Planning is expensive! That was the case, but now it doesn’t have to be! With FreeWill, the process can be completed at no charge and in 20 minutes or less. In fact, FreeWill provides planned- and major-giving tools for nonprofits that your donors will love. Specifically, FreeWill can customize appropriate resources for your organization. More than 900+ nonprofits have already used FreeWill to raise more than $5.9 billion in bequests, qualified charitable distributions, and stock gifts.

Also, if your donors plan to seek the assistance of an attorney, they can use FreeWill to create a list of documented wishes to give themselves a head start and save time—and money!

What are your planned giving engagement plans for Make-A-Will month? Please let us know in the comments section below; also please share this post with a colleague who might find it a helpful resource.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

The Phrases That Encourage Estate Giving

Since August is “Make-A-Will” month, I’ve been writing about estate and legacy (planned) giving and wills, and plan to continue doing so for the next few weeks. Please let me know if the content helps you decide your course of action. Would You Make A “Gift” In Your Will? Did you know that it’s much more effective to ask your donors to make “Gifts in your will” rather than “Bequest Gifts?” Here’s why: Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP, a philanthropy researcher based at Texas Tech University, reports that, according to the latest donor surveys, asking people to consider “Gifts in your will”

Read More »

Does Fundraising Slow Down in the Summer?

A reader asks, “Doesn’t giving slowdown in the summer?” Summertime is usually a challenging time for nonprofit fundraising and is often seen as the “off season.” Statistics show that nonprofits bring in less than 5% of their annual fundraising revenue in both July and August, respectively. Also, less donations are usually made during these two summer months than the rest of the year. Five Immediate Summertime Actions To make the most of the dog days of summer, consider these five immediate action steps: Increase your donor cultivation and stewardship Pick up the phone and call your major donors, even if

Read More »

Toward Donor Diversity: A Prospect Researcher’s Call for Stronger Organizational Readiness

Prospect researchers are often asked about how to cultivate a diverse donor pool. This is a worthy question, but first examining your nonprofit’s organizational structures, especially by those of us with white access, and privilege, is needed. You see, before we can address where to find diverse donors, we need to assess if our institution is creating an environment in which diverse donors would not only feel welcomed, valued, and heard, but in which they feel safe and engaged to invest their capital. To have a stronger organizational readiness, consider these questions: • What do we offer to diverse donors?

Read More »

Guest Post: Stop F***ing About With Your Logo And Stick To Fundraising Instead

We are proud to share this guest blog post by Mark Phillips of Bluefrog Fundraising. A few weeks ago, I presented Rogare’s inaugural Critical Fundraising lecture at Kingston University. My topic was charity rebranding. It’s an area of work I’ve long been interested in. I love great brands, and as a result, I tend to track what happens after a charity rebrands by keeping an eye on the numbers in their annual reports. By and large, if a rebrand is a tweak – that’s a change of visual ID, typeface or even a logo, it doesn’t really have much impact on

Read More »