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22 Greatest Legacy Hits from 2016 AFP Congress

December 6, 2016

by David Love

I am obsessed with legacy fundraising. 

There are two primary reasons: First, the social justice causes I deeply care about (environment, human rights, women’s issues) stand to benefit mightily from the coming “legacy tsunami” if they ask for legacy gifts properly. Second, as a life-long proponent of donor-centred fundraising, I see a legacy gift as the greatest thing our precious donors can do for themselves and for our ailing world. 

So, at AFP Congress this year, I attended three sessions on legacies and gave another one. Here are the greatest hits from those sessions. (I’m sure all of the presenters would be happy to answer any questions you have, so I have included their emails.)

A Legacy Program that Gets Results - Sean Triner, Fundraising Evangelist, Pareto Fundraising (

  • In Australia, 55% of all revenue given to charities comes from only 4% of the donors.
  • It takes about 2 years to convert a legacy prospect into a legacy intender.
  • Face-to-face fundraising (which recruits monthly gifts) has dramatically affected the old notion that monthly donors are your best legacy prospects
  • 90% of legacy leads in Australia come from surveys. Including an ask in the survey does not depress results.
  • Showing up at a prospect’s door with the completed survey is a great idea.
  • The best legacy fundraisers are salespeople.

Turning Legacy Giving Upside Down - Gary MacDonald, Founding Partner, Clearview Consulting (

  • Your donor’s needs come first.
  • Gary recommended Fraser Green’s excellent book, “Iceberg Philanthropy.
  • The average legacy gift in Canada is $35,000.
  • Small, local organizations are well-placed to receive legacy gifts.
  • Legacy donors can be eloquent advocates.
  • Your organization should have a list of potential lawyers and financial planners but should not recommend any particular service provider.

So Far: 42 Lessons Learned in 33 Years of Legacy Fundraising - David Love, Godfather of Good, Agents of Good (

  • Your legacy intenders will increase their annual giving by one-third.
  • Sprinkle “legacy dust” throughout your organization.
  • David recommended Stephen Pidgeon’s excellent book, “How to Love Your Donors (to Death).”
  • While major gifts are all about the gift, legacies are all about the donor.
  • It is a joy to be a legacy fundraiser.
  • It is a privilege to be a legacy fundraiser

10 Easy Steps to Mine Your Middle Donor Program for Planned Gifts -Mark Trask, Vice President, Artsmarketing Services Inc (

  • Middle donors represent a huge opportunity but organizations need to define and strategically approach middle donors.
  • Your legacy prospects love the phone.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that legacy prospects throw away letters but keep business cards.
  • Organizations need a 5-year cultivation plan for legacy donors and prospects.

Once again, AFP Congress was filled with practical ideas that will make us all better legacy fundraisers. I can’t wait for Congress 2017!

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