Today was a great day for people like me.
It all started with a long standing Telemiracle
fundraising campaign on TV here in Saskatchewan, Canada. It had all the elements you could ask for from high-drama philanthropy - emotional stories, compelling appeals and amazing corporate participation with just under $1 Million donated by two companies for a total of $5.9 Million raised in just two days. For most of us fundraising professionals, those results would indeed feel like a miracle!
Today, the campaign made front-page news. But this year, it was because of one farmer's legacy gift - a bequest in the amount of $1.46 Million
presented by his son and daughter-in-law. For legacy gift planning evangelists like myself, it was a dream come true to see the positive power of one person's generosity grabbing the attention of so many.
I think practically the whole province was celebrating today! But there's a bit of a dark side to it too... I also heard so many comments today about how this must have been an unusually wealthy person, how it's nice that this happened, but we could never expect to do something like this ourselves, about how the children must feel to have so much taken away from them...
Frankly, this type of thinking makes me go crazy!
Why? Because the beauty of charitable bequests is that a planned gift is well within the scope of what most of us could do for our communities based on our financial capacity. It's not about disinheriting the kids and it's not about being a wealthy, flashy philanthropist. It's simply about being responsible about what we've been lucky enough to receive in life and considering how that could be shared once our own needs and those of our families/friends have been met.
That's what this particular farmer did and he brought joy to many hundreds of thousands of people today as a result.
Today was also my own lucky day. I had the opportunity and the great pleasure of standing up on my little soap box to speak to Saskatchewan about my passion for legacy giving on the radio thanks to Craig Lederhouse
on CBC Saskatchewan's Afternoon Edition. The interview is available online here.
Craig asked me on-air how rich one must be before considering philanthropy. It surprised me, but the story of a homeless man who came to the (financial) aid of one woman who had always stopped to greet him on the street was the first thing to come to mind. That news story can be found here.
Craig was very interested in how fundraisers open the conversation about a legacy gift and I hope my comments in the interview will give some insight into that process. The thing to remember as a fundraiser is that connection, relationship, involvement with the charity were the main factors behind the bequest that made the news today - not tax, not ultra-high-net-wealth, not naming rights.
It's about joy. It's about how you feel when a child or grandchild opens a gift from you. When you know that though your contribution may be small, you are changing the world for the better. Really thinking deeply about whether there is an organization you care deeply enough about to make part of your family and include in your will. There is joy and gladness there for you and for so many others who will remember you by your kindness.
Love to hear your thoughts!