In recent years, online wills have emerged as a promising avenue for fundraising. An estimated $480 million has been pledged to worthy causes via free wills written on Gathered Here alone.
It’s no surprise so many NFPs are integrating them into their wider bequest programs and, even if they haven’t made the leap yet, gifts in wills fundraisers are certainly familiar with the concept.
Supporters, however, might not be.
Most supporters won’t have used an online will platform before. Some might not be aware they exist, others may assume it’s a difficult or technical process. It can be a deterrent that stands in the way of interested supporters pledging a gift in their will.
It’s why education has become so important.
NFPs can benefit from passing on the message that online wills are simple, affordable and, when completed correctly, perfectly legal and valid.
Thankfully, there are many ways to get the word out.
For NFPs that have already earned gifts via an online will, reach out to supporters and ask if they would be comfortable taking part in a case study.
Case studies can help normalise online will-writing and gift-pledging. They can alleviate concerns and give potential supporters a clearer picture of the process.
Aim to collect various case studies from different demographics and with different circumstances, so a wider range of supporters can relate to them.
Once you have your case studies, share them far and wide. Social media, EDMs, postal communications, on your website – they’re a highly effective means of reaching supporters.
Consider hosting webinars or workshops dedicated to the topic of online wills. Invite legal experts and online will representatives to speak and answer attendee questions.
These events provide a platform for interactive discussions and can help demystify the process. Record the sessions and make them available for those who couldn’t attend in real-time.
For example, a number of organisations have partnered with Gathered Here and Gathered Here Legal to run webinars, including the Stroke Foundation, Black Dog Institute and the Small Non-Profit Alliance.
Create a guide that collates all of the educational material you have around online wills in one place. It can include information on online will platforms, case studies of genuine supporters, and commentary from experts. Don’t forget to include insight into the real-life impact of gifts within your specific information.
Make these resources easily accessible online and tailor them to your supporter base if appropriate. For example, Expression Australia recently created an instructional video in Auslan for its deaf and hard of hearing supporter base.
Educating supporters about online wills isn’t a set-and-forget initiative. Leverage your organisation’s online presence to keep the message spreading on a regular basis.
Use your website, social media channels, and email newsletters to share articles, success stories, and educational content related to online wills.
Make it easy for donors to access this information with just a few clicks. In an ideal world, this information should be reaching potential donors who haven’t even considered online wills yet, as well as those who are already thinking about it.
Online wills are an amazing tool for lots of Australians. But they’re not perfect for everyone.
Supporters with complex estate needs are better suited seeking tailored advice from a specialist. Being transparent about this can help build trust among your supporter base and help potential supporters understand if an online will might be right for them.
Encourage supporters to be transparent too. Ask them to share their intentions if they feel comfortable doing so – both with your organisation and their loved ones. This can help with longer-term stewardship and future planning while increasing the likelihood of a gift eventuating.
Do you have a question for the team at Gathered Here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about online wills, visit Gathered Here