Write The Letter: Bequests II

Sections of this topic

    Last month I introduced promotion of planned gifts with bequests.

    This month, I’m helping you write your direct mail letter. If you can’t afford direct mail, don’t worry. There are lots of other channels to promote charitable bequests and I’ll get to those.

    If you don’t plan a letter campaign, my tips will help you understand the audience so you’ll gain confidence in your other promotion channels—including face-to-face meetings.

    If you will use direct mail, here you go:

    § Write the letter from your heart. Be warm, factual, sincere, and straightforward. Share how a bequest in a will can help support your important work long into the future, because today’s bequest may not mean cash to you for many years. This is long-term fundraising.
    § Acknowledge that family always comes first in one’s long-term planning.
    § Include an invitation to “consider including ABC Charity in your will or other long-term plan.”I like to see this ask in its own paragraph.
    § Don’t be ashamed or ask humbly. Ask with confidence and sincerity.
    § Devote your letter exclusively to promoting a gift by will. No other subjects to distract from your heart-whole purpose.
    § Your prospects are in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Bear that in mind as you write.
    § Limit your letter to one page. Take the advice I’ve given and write concisely.

    Testimonial letters carry great power.

    So if you have donors who have already included you in their wills, ask if they’ll tell the story of why they did it and how it makes them feel to have your nonprofit alongside the bequests for their spouses, children, and grandchildren.

    You’ll find it easier to interview them, write the letter for them and let them edit it.

    Your donors who love you will accept a simple, authentic and heartfelt explanation of how their wills can help you. Remember from last month, you’re writing to your most consistent and loyal donors.

    Take note of the adjectives I’ve used. They’ll guide you as you write: warm; factual; sincere; straightforward; confident; simple; authentic; and heartfelt.

    Come back in June for advice on what to do with your letter in “More Direct Mail: Bequests III.”


    Tony Martignetti, Esq. is the host of Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. He’s a Planned Giving consultant, speaker, author, blogger and stand-up comic. You’ll find him at tonymartignetti.com.


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