Legacy Challenge or Legacy Match: A Naming Dilemma

Renee Durnin, CFRE, Stelter Client Strategist

Special guest author, Stelter Client Strategist Renee Durnin, CFRE, is in to challenge you to think a little more before naming your next legacy challenge.

Over the past decade in the planned giving space, we’ve seen the emergence of the “Legacy Challenge.” This type of fundraiser asks supporters to document a planned gift, and in doing so, their gift will be “matched” by a donor or group of donors (a percentage of the gift amount or a set dollar amount). These campaigns have shown to be very effective in encouraging donors to help make an impact today by leaving a legacy.

As various nonprofits tackle developing their legacy fundraising campaigns, one crucial decision is choosing the right name. Traditionally, planned giving fundraisers have been using the term “Legacy Challenge,” however, based on recent results we think you may want to consider another option: “Legacy Match.”

Hitting Pause

We recently partnered with two nonprofits (both in the international affairs sector) on fundraising campaigns where the name of the campaign garnered a lot of conversation. Initially, we were going with “Legacy Challenge Match.” However, once we added the official campaign name to the beginning of it, it all became too long and cumbersome. (A sure-fire way to have marketing tank is to make it long and cumbersome!)

Given that the pioneering naming convention has been “Legacy Challenge,” our instinct was to drop “Match” from the title. But, knowing the crucial role headlines and callouts play in grabbing a reader’s attention, we decided to hit pause and give more thought to the decision.

In legacy giving we’re targeting a loyal audience, so we delved into each organization’s donor journey and how their donors have responded in the past. For both, direct response match appeals were some of their highest fundraising initiatives. We reviewed the campaign materials and saw that “match” was used heavily in teasers, headlines and callouts, while “challenge” was used only occasionally in body copy.

We also discussed their donors’ giving motivations. Had giving circles or legacy societies been a successful motivator? The answer was no. Both nonprofits have nationally diverse donor bases, so this personal connectivity concept had not been part of their fundraising mix.

In the end, for both nonprofits, we chose “Legacy Match” and kept the marketing as simple as possible for their readers to digest.

The results: both campaigns have received some of the highest-performing results we’ve seen in spurring legacy gifts in both print and digital channels.

Given this success, we want to share some tips for other nonprofits to consider.

Discovering What’s Right for You

While both names carry their unique connotations and implications, it’s essential to consider the specific goals and dynamics of your campaign to determine which title best encapsulates its essence and translates to your donor’s experience with your organization.

STEP ONE: Define the Purpose of Your Campaign

To choose between Legacy Challenge and Legacy Match, it’s important to clarify the primary purpose of your campaign. Ask yourself: Are you seeking to foster friendly competition among donors, or do you want to emphasize the multiplier effect of their contributions?

Legacy Challenge – Embracing Friendly Competition

If your campaign aims to create a sense of camaraderie and achievement through competition, Legacy Challenge may be the ideal choice. This name conveys the notion of participants taking on a challenge together, striving to achieve specific goals and benchmarks. It ignites excitement, encourages donors to push their limits, and fosters a sense of community as they work collectively towards a shared objective.

Legacy Match – Amplifying Philanthropic Impact

On the other hand, if your campaign aims to maximize the impact of individual contributions and inspire broader donor participation, Legacy Match may be more appropriate. This name highlights the multiplier effect of donations, suggesting that every planned gift made will be matched or multiplied by a partnering group or person. It conveys the message that donors can increase the significance of their contributions and make a more substantial difference by participating in the campaign.

STEP TWO: Consider Donor Relationships and Engagement

When deciding between “Challenge” and “Match,” the other key element to consider is your donor base, their preferences and how they’ve interacted with your organization throughout their donor journey. Reflect on their motivations, interests and the language that resonates with them.

Relationship Case for Challenge

Ask yourself: Do your donors know one another and have they been motivated by uniting for a challenge in the past? Throughout their relationship with your organization, have they experienced giving societies or groups that inspired support?

Relationship Case for Match

Are your supporters regionally diverse with little connectivity to one another now or in the past, so uniting with others might not be as compelling? Do your donors regularly see and give to match appeals in your annual giving or direct response marketing?

STEP THREE: Collaborate and Seek Input

Don’t hesitate to break down internal silos and involve all fundraising departments in the decision-making process. From direct mail to digital fundraising to telemarketing to major giving—they all play a part in your supporter’s journey with your organization and can provide valuable insight when asking for the ultimate legacy gift. Solicit their input and gather diverse perspectives to ensure the chosen name resonates with your target audience.

What’s in a Name

Deciding between “Legacy Challenge” and “Legacy Match” requires careful consideration of your goals, donor preferences and the desired campaign dynamics. Both names carry distinct connotations and implications, offering unique ways to engage donors and amplify their impact.

By aligning with the essence of your campaign and the expectations of your donor base, you can create a compelling narrative that inspires participation, fosters a sense of community, and helps your donors have a meaningful philanthropic legacy.

Keep Learning

Never implemented a Legacy Challenge? Learn how to do it successfully from fundraisers who’ve done it, twice.

Webinar: Implementing Your First (or Second) Legacy Challenge

Presented by John B. Kendrick CAP, Gift Planning & Impact Philanthropy Consultant and Courtney Tsai, JD, CAP, Senior Manager, Charitable Strategies Group, Schwab Charitable.

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