Spring ... when your fancy turns to ... wills and bequests

Spring ... Rebirth ... Renewal ... Spring Forward ... Looking Forward ... Planning Ahead ... Planned Giving. OK, maybe this is only how my mind works, but spring is an excellent time for you, your congregation, and your school to consider wills, bequests, and other planned giving efforts. The snow is melting, the future looks bright. There's more sun in the sky, and we celebrate the death of a Son. Planned giving should be as much a part of any church or school's calendar as the year-end mailing, the SGO brochure, the endowment report, etc. Below is a FAQ primer to get your leadership thinking: What exactly is a "planned giving effort?"In short, all organizations should be looking to promote ways to identify, plan, and execute wealth-transfer options, including wills and bequests, charitable trusts, etc., to benefit your mission. People call them "life gifts," with which you identify and support what was important to you in your life. Types of planned gifts include gifts through wills, trusts, charitable gift annuities, life insurance, IRAs, etc. Why should we have a planned giving effort?If you do not ask, you will not get. It truly is as simple as it sounds. When do we start a planned giving effort?Yesterday. Everyone can think of a time your school received a gift from someone's will at just the right time. "Wonderful! God is good! What a salvation to our project that was!" Well, someone did some work in the past to make that gift a reality now. If you'd like to receive more gifts in the future, it's time to get moving. Who should we approach in our planned giving effort?Everyone. While common logic may indicate that you should focus on those who are "nearing the end of their time here on earth," studies show that on average, families create wills when they're in their late 40s. Get in there now for the long haul. How about just focusing on the wealthy? As the local Leave A Legacy promotional effort would say, "You do not have to be wealthy; you just have to be willing." Would you rather receive one bequest for $50,000, or 10 gifts of $5,000 each? If someone usually gave $250 a year, they could leave $5,000 in his or her will for your school's endowment, providing that $250 a year, forever. (Remember that from my last e-newsletter on endowments? Ask me for a copy if you missed it.) All of these concepts can be summed very nicely by something a pastor recently told me: "I oversaw nearly a dozen funerals of long-term members last year. Not one of them included the church in their will. I guess we cannot just 'assume' it will happen anymore." Give me a call, and I can help you start your planned giving efforts, including creating a simple information sheet, a request packet, or even a bequest club. Spring into action, everyone!