Leave A Legacy

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love…I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…

I was reminded of those lines from a 1971 Coca-Cola ad as I read an article in Planned Giving Today  about ‘Leave A Legacy.’  Now, I know I’m showing my age with a reference to something more than four decades old, but you can see and hear the ad easily thanks to the internet, where it is often linked to 1985’s “We Are The World” plea by rock superstars for aid to Africa.

The idea for ‘Leave A Legacy’ germinated in Ohio in 1993, when Diana Newman and her colleagues at the Columbus Foundation were pondering why so few folks were including a charitable gift in their estate plans. She suspected that it was because “…they never even thought about it,” and developed a community awareness campaign that caught on around Ohio.

In 1996, the program was transferred to the National Committee on Planned Giving (now the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, PPP) where it was rolled out to its councils across the country. I was involved with the Georgia Planned Giving Council then and was asked to develop a strategic plan for ‘Leave A Legacy.’

It was a delight to work with Bryan Clontz, who had agreed to head up the program, and Wes Wicker, to lay out a strategy for a statewide effort. We thought we were being a bit bold, but as the program unfolded, it grew legs and expanded beyond what we expected – although not as fast as we had hoped, if my recollection is correct.

‘Leave A Legacy’ has taken off around the world since programs were launched in Canada in 1999 and the United Kingdom in 2002. From 2006 through 2014, programs began in Australia, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Sweden. During the first quarter of this year, Finland, Norway, and Poland have initiated programs.

In the U.S., the program has waned since its high point around the turn of the century.  Today, only about 15 of PPP’s 101 councils have a program.

That’s a shame, because it does appear that the number of Americans including a charitable provision in their estate plans is increasing, even if ever so slowly. It’s all about education, and so we must keep talking about the wonderful opportunities people have to leave a legacy.

Have you asked a donor today whether she or he has considered including your organization in her or his estate plans? If not, do so right now – unless it is after 5 p.m.

If so, then do it first thing tomorrow and every day thereafter.