A whopping 32 percent of all charitable giving in the United States is directed to religious causes, mostly local congregations. Many churches have received significant gifts that have involved a structured plan such as a will or trust.
Often, these planned gifts were received without any prior effort or knowledge of the congregation. Gifts of this nature can be called Legacy Gifts, because they are expressions of the desires members have to extend God’s providence and grace to others, even beyond their own lifetime.
While donations to religion far outpace any other category of giving, congregations do a poor job of encouraging Legacy Gifts among their members and constituents. Bequests left to churches lag far behind those designated for other charitable causes.
One of the greatest opportunities for Legacy Giving involves wills and estate plans. A majority of Americans do not have a will or estate plan. Dying without a will puts the decision about an estate’s distribution in the hands of the State.
By encouraging the use of a will or estate plan, the Church helps its members ensure that their estates are allocated according to their wishes. Promoting wills and estate plans also provides the Church with an opportunity to ask members to include their congregation or a specific ministry as part of their lasting legacy.
If you would like to start a Legacy Giving program in your congregation, contact me using this form.