At the heart of every legacy gift is always a story. It’s a currency that runs strong and is rarely devalued. Sometimes visible, most often not. Sometimes shared, sometimes celebrated. But most, if we are honest are forgotten, if found at all.
Presenting on legacy strategy recently, I focused on the power of story. One questioner from the floor, asked what was needed to find stories. How can you collect and where from? I told her that they are all around and we just need to be mindful and then ask the question. Look to your donors, executors, volunteers, programme staff, founders and fundraising staff. Ask them, train them and give yourself a place where you collect and share.
Later in the day, the very brilliant Michael Clark from Cystic Fibrosis Trust, was talking about why gifts can come from people you don’t know or have never met and that for them they had a connection we will often never know. He talked of a very large gift from a man who was not known to them but on his death he had shared his reasons for the gift in his will.
One day he was sitting in a park and watching the world go by on a break when his peace was disturbed by a young child whose cough was loud, consistent and disturbing to him. He asked the mother if the child was alright. The mother told him her son has Cystic Fibrosis and this was level of coughing was normal and daily. She thanked him for asking and disappeared from his life. A moment he never forgot. And from that a legacy gift and from that a legacy story.
There is no marketing involved here, except the moment when that donor sought out the charity as the means to make the gift. It was a human moment that germinated for a long time. A human moment driven by a story and connection.
Stories and connections are our currency. How much better would we be if we were just able to ask, listen and share?