Planned giving is still a relatively new concept for many churches. Generally, people have most of their assets in non-liquid form (e.g. homes, stocks, businesses, insurance policies, etc.). The average American portfolio is only 10% liquid. That means if we rest our entire funding strategy on weekly tithes and offers, we are limited to a fraction of the giving potential of even the average member.
Colleges, universities, hospitals, foundations, etc. figured this out a long time ago. The church has been slow – on a whole – to adopt or incorporate a plan to access the non-liquid giving potential of its membership. And the net result of that decision has created a superhighway for members to channel a substantial part of their estate out of the offering plates of churches and into the bank accounts of countless other good organizations doing good things but not necessarily singularly focused on expanding the Kingdom.
When I talk to churches about planned giving, there is always one person who asks, “But isn’t planned giving just for old people?” This misconception has crippled the church’s ability to cast a vision that incorporates the entire congregation. This represents A Big Mistake Made by Non-Profits Regarding Planned Giving.
Here are some ideas to consider should you decide to rethink the role of planned giving in your funding strategy:
1. Encourage members to take out a small ($50k or $100k) life insurance policy and name the church as the sole beneficiary of the policy. This is a very effective idea for families of all ages but especially younger families who haven’t had the time to build a significant estate value.
2. Contract with a local attorney that specializes in estate law to meet with all new parents in your congregation about important “life” documents. Offer to cover the expenses of family wills, medical directives, and other related documents if the couple or individual will act “with charitable intent” toward the church.
3. Consider adding books like The Eternity Portfolio to your financial education schedule. Many churches deal with debt. Some churches deal with stewardship. Few churches are helping members build a plan for Kingdom investment with the discretionary income beyond the tithe. The key word is: Plan!
God has already provided all the resources we need to fund the work He has called us to do. The “catch” – if there is such a thing – is that church leaders must cultivate what God has provided. Is your planned giving strategy (or lack thereof) helping sustain other organizations or allowing your church to fund a legacy of life transformation?