A planned gift is any gift above and beyond a person’s usual pledge that requires careful thought and planning ahead of time. Most planned gifts come in the form of bequests (gifts made through a person’s will after death) or beneficiary designations. If you’re hesitant to talk about this type of giving at your church, you’re not alone… but you might be missing out on some ministry-changing generosity! Here are five reasons to start talking about planned giving at your church.
1. It’s a ministry.
Getting their affairs in order lifts a burden off your members’ shoulders. And knowing that they’ll be remembered with love is even better. While it can feel awkward to start a conversation along these lines, being invited to talk about it can be a huge relief. We all know that we can’t take our money with us when we die. Talking it over with trusted friends and faith leaders normalizes and demystifies it. And planning ahead for generosity breathes hope and joy into the process.
2. The timing is right.
The Greatest Generation is disappearing, Baby Boomers are retiring, and Gen X’ers are seeing their families rapidly mature into adulthood. For these reasons and more, many of them are writing their wills now. We are experiencing the greatest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next in the history of this nation. Are you ready?
3. Someone else is already asking.
It may feel awkward to ask your members about including the church in their planned giving, but your members’ alma maters and other favorite charities have already asked. And many of your members are already planning to make bequests to these other causes, even though their connection with your church is far deeper. If you don’t ask, someone else will. It is that simple.
4. Planned Gifts help your church manage risk.
Many of your most faithful givers are also your oldest. What will happen when the three most generous members in your church pass away? A planned gift can help mitigate the financial hit that a church takes when it loses a key giver, creating a more stable cash flow.
5. It sparks creativity around your church’s future.
When you think long term—moving beyond annual stewardship campaigns or urgent requests to cover budget shortfalls, and asking for gifts that may not materialize for decades—it shows you believe that your church will be making a difference for generations to come. And it invites your members to co-create that vision. Brainstorm together about what’s made the biggest impact for each of them: is it outreach? Education? Pastoral care? Music? What might those ministries look like in the long-term? How can we set the church up for continued success in these areas? When people plan to support your cause within and beyond their lifetimes, they become more invested. This allows planned gifts to benefit your ministries even before you’ve received them.
Are you convinced yet? If so, download our new Bequest Brochure, have your local print shop print it and trim it, and use it at your church. And stay tuned! In the coming months, we’ll share 8 more easy ways to remind your congregation about planned giving, along with a roadmap for how to identify, cultivate, and ask members who are most likely to make a planned gift.
By Julia Frisbie, Associate Director, Northwest United Methodist Foundation