During annual fundraising campaigns or other initiatives to raise current dollars, many philanthropy professionals rely heavily on the emotional components of their interactions with donors, such as the human needs being served by the nonprofit’s programs and stories of successful outcomes. This focus is wise because research tells us that emotional intelligence is critical to successful fundraising.

By contrast, philanthropy professionals frequently lean toward approaching charitable gift planning as a mostly rational exercise, probably because of the heavy tax and legal components involved in structuring trusts, bequests, foundations, donor-advised funds, beneficiary designations, and so on. Indeed, it’s critical to nail those tax and legal components to ensure that a donor’s charitable intentions are carried out in a financially savvy manner.

But the emotional side of charitable gift planning is powerful and should not be overlooked. Any type of giving delivers psychological benefits to the giver. Think about the notion of an endowment gift. Its permanence can create a sense of immortality that is very important to the donor. What’s more, the donor’s values live on through the types of causes they support through legacy and endowment gifts, especially if the gift instrument clearly defines the donor’s intent and the impact the donor is hoping to achieve. Finally, many donors feel that making an endowment gift, especially through a bequest, is a fitting way to culminate–and in some ways make permanent–a long history of annual giving to an organization.

The key for nonprofit organizations is to balance the emotional and the rational during the legacy fundraising process. Engaging donors’ hearts and minds will lead to more success than cultivating an endowment gift using only one or the other approach. Sometimes it’s hard, though, to balance both parts of the conversation. That’s where the community foundation can help. When your organization has established its endowment or other legacy fund through the community foundation, our team can work alongside your team to cultivate endowment gifts. We’ll bring the tax and legal considerations to the table so that you can focus on tapping into the donor’s emotional desire to make a meaningful gift that lasts well beyond the donor’s lifetime.