Q&A with Kenneth Park on bequests and planned giving
The development of an effective bequest strategy is widely recognised as an important part of a fundraising and philanthropy program, and increasing numbers of cultural and arts organisations are embracing planned giving as a means of securing revenue.
Kenneth W Park has had extensive experience in the areas of members programs, philanthropic giving, sponsorship, public relations/marketing, arts education, tour development and operations, cultural tourism and museum practice.
Over the years, Kenneth has worked with a wide range of organisations in philanthropy including the State Library of Victoria Foundation, the Arts Centre, Wesley College, Melbourne Football Club, National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and Creative Partnerships Australia. Kenneth’s key philanthropic area of interest is in donation programs and bequests.
Why does an arts organisation need a bequest program?
The simple and straightforward answer is that more and more arts/cultural organisation are working in bequests/planned giving space.
In recent years, many organisations have established branded bequest programs and today they are already seeing the results in bequests received.
In some instances, these bequests have been organisation changing. You must recognise and publicize the fact that you’re an organisation that welcomes bequests.
Most arts and culture organisations have giving programs which ask for support in a variety of ways, or as I say they present a suite of philanthropic giving opportunities that may include annual appeals, adding a donation when you renew your membership, donating on top of the ticket price, special fundraising events and the list goes on.
Think of a bequest program as simply another giving opportunity. Ideally, a bequest program should be an important part of any effective fundraising strategy.
People have been leaving bequests to all sorts of causes from hospitals to schools and universities to charities because these organisations have presented a passionate case for support and they have gone out asked “your will, our future”.
Over the last few years, many arts organisations of all sizes have realised that they should be operating in this space and this why a bequest program should be part of your philanthropy strategy.
It is about letting your audience, supporters and friends know that they can leave a bequest to support the work of an organisation that they loved and want future generations to enjoy. This is a powerful motivator.
Is it hard to set up a bequest program?
Setting up a bequest program is a relatively simple and straightforward exercise. All that is required is that organisation commit.
There are some minor administration issues, at the very least, you need to sort out the appropriate will wording so that it can be immediately offered to the telephone caller whether they be the solicitor and/or potential bequestor.
Many organisations have been the recipient of surprise bequests and this has prompted them to act. Integrate the idea of making bequests into general fundraising activities.
Mention it when you are talking about fundraising. Look at your paperwork and wherever there is a donation field on a form insert a tick box for those who want information on making a bequest.
Make sure you have information on your website. If you want to ramp things up; establish a special bequestors group to recognise notified bequestors.
Stage some events with your bequestors and you will find more potential bequest prospects.
The more you invest the more you will have success. Remember that planning giving is not really a short-term fundraising strategy. It is about laying the foundations for future success. Once you get a group of bequestors you will then see pattern of bequest fulfilment.
Why do we think it’s hard to talk about leaving a gift in your will when you die?
Death, and indeed talking about dying used to be no go topics for many people.
This also applies to that delicate chat about what are you going to do with your money.
The subject used to be quickly (and nervously) laughed off. Today the world is very different place.
In the last few decades, many institutions and organisations have recognised that a well-operated bequest program is a critical part of a full-fledged suite of philanthropic offers. People are now getting used to being asked about leaving a bequest.
In some respects, it is all about how you distinguish yourself by the way you ask. There are many ways to broach the subject of leaving a bequest – and it must be done with care. Everyone is different.
You will find some people will respond to a letter or a story in your newsletter, others will need to be cultivated, just asking in the right context and so on. In fact, if you have prepared the way well you often the person will simply ask.
You need to pick the right circumstance and then with ‘ice broken’ the conversation moves along. Always remember that irrespective of the size of the bequest it is about their gift (legacy) to society.
Read more about Kenneth here.