This page is for church leaders looking for information about legacy giving. If you are thinking about leaving money to your local church in your will please click here.
Even for those of us confident in speaking about the importance of giving it can be hard to talk about legacies. It is helpful to reconsider legacies in the light of faith and to think about the meaning and importance of legacies to those who leave them.
The word legacy actually comes from the Latin legō meaning I choose/profess, and a legacy is more than anything else a profession of faith. Just as we support our church by regular planned giving while we are alive, so we can choose to continue to profess our love for God and our church after physical death. In other words, seen in the light of faith, a legacy is really nothing more nor less than a commitment made in the love of God given to support the ongoing life of one’s church community in generations to come.
It is important that as church leaders we talk about legacies because they are an integral part of Christian generosity, not just a potential source of income. Just as we ask our members to give regularly to support the life of the church, so we ask them to leave a legacy to ensure the continuance of that life for future generations.
Resources for encouraging legacies in your church
The national church has a website dedicated to helping you talk about legacies in your own church which you can find here. The Parish Resources website also has extensive resources which you can read here. You may also like to read these resources created by the Diocese of Oxford which consider how to approach death in the light of faith.
Additionally, we have included below three suggestions for highlighting legacy giving in your church:
- Integrate legacies into your other giving materials
Whenever you talk about giving make sure to mention legacies. For example, if you have a page on your website about donating, say something about legacy giving; or if you have something on your church noticeboard, you could include your legacy policy (see below). This will introduce people to legacies as a natural continuation of giving to church.
- Write a legacy policy
Legacy policies are documents which set out in a simple and clear way why people should give to your church and how you will use any legacies you receive. Once approved by the PCC a policy can be publicly displayed to raise awareness of the difference someone can make by leaving a legacy. As part of this you could nominate a specific person who has left a legacy and with whom enquirers can have a confidential conversation. You can read more about writing a legacy policy here.
- Share suggested legal wording
As wills are legal documents we always recommend seeking professional legal advice when writing a will. That being said, the national church has provided the basics of the wording here and it can be useful to make this available to anyone thinking about leaving a legacy. By doing this you can: encourage gifts, increase donor confidence in the process of leaving a legacy, and ensure that, when it comes to the church receiving the legacy, the process is as straightforward as possible.