Let’s celebrate the spirit of collaboration and sharing!


This month we wanted to highlight a great idea that is growing in the legacy marketing community – gathering to talk about marketing and metrics. We have a group that meets in the Greater Toronto Area and our member Sarah who recently moved from Toronto to Vancouver, was part of organizing the first one there, late last year – thank you, Sarah, for sharing your experience and the idea with CAGP.  Wherever gift planning is evolving, we want CAGP to be present, supportive and part of fostering community!

Have you seen how this connects to our strategic plan for the next five years? Click here to see how CAGP is turning our mission into action – in your part of Canada! See our Chapter list here to find your local chapter

Anyone who has worked in the planned giving sector probably will agree that one of the best things about it is the spirit of collaboration and sharing in which we all work. Perhaps more so than in any other type of fundraising, we’re always willing to help each other out and share our best practices.

I especially saw this when I attended a Legacy Roundtable in Toronto in 2017, shortly before I moved to Vancouver. In its third year at the time, the roundtable was an opportunity for a small group of charities to get together for half a day to discuss their planned giving program challenges, brainstorm solutions, and share innovative new ideas. I left the experience feeling inspired by the ideas that came up in our discussion, so much so that I was motivated to replicate the roundtable in my new city.

Flash forward to September 2019, when the very first Legacy Roundtable in Vancouver has just wrapped up, with thanks to CAGP’s support and a dedicated organizing committee. Our roundtable included seven charities that had vastly different budgets and missions, and once again I left feeling inspired by the people I spent the day with and the commonalities we were able to identify across our programs.

We started the morning off by presenting an analysis of multiple data points the organizations shared, to help paint a picture of who was in the room and inform the discussion. We compared our estate revenue, average bequest size, number of prospects and expectants, new stewardship and identification ideas we’re all working on, and more.

The conversation that followed was an opportunity for the charities to workshop the various challenges they’re all facing – and there were a lot! Then we picked our top three challenges and broke out into small groups to brainstorm ideas to help resolve these challenges:

  1. Balancing relationship management and mass marketing in large donor portfolios


  • Segment the donor list and prioritize relationship management with certain key donors based on clearly defined protocols
  • Use volunteers to reach a large volume of donors personally
  • Use events, group tours, and road trips to reach many donors at once
  1. Ensuring database integrity


  • Document database procedures to protect institutional knowledge during times of turnover, and train new staff thoroughly on these procedures
  • Ensure data is accurate, avoid and correct duplicates, and close out old files
  • Have standard definitions for the codes used in your database
  1. Securing buy in from leadership to invest in planned giving


  • Find a planned giving champion within your Board
  • Build a culture in the organization that encourages understanding of not only the long-term return on investment of planned gifts, but also the immediate increase in giving that securing planned gifts so often inspires
  • Integrate planned giving with all other areas of fundraising

After the fruitful challenges and solutions discussion, two of the roundtable organizations presented case studies. VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation shared information about their advisor networking strategy, and Ecojustice shared information about their use of focus groups and surveys to better understand their donors’ motivations and barriers in leaving a legacy.

Now that the first-ever Vancouver Legacy Roundtable is complete, I’m further inspired and my hope is that it will become an annual event, just like Toronto’s. I also hope more chapters will consider doing their own roundtables so that we can make it a national initiative. Perhaps one day we could even do a Canada-wide Roundtable! Let’s keep nurturing the spirit of collaboration and sharing that makes our work so rewarding!

If you’re interested in hosting your own roundtable and would like to learn more about how ours was organized, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahmay3/

Sarah May

Sarah May is a professional fundraiser with over 5-years experience working in the charitable sector, particularly in planned and leadership giving. She is currently the Development Officer, Leadership Giving at the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, and the Chair of the Board of Directors for Toronto Cat Rescue. She holds a certificate in Fundraising Management from Humber College and recently achieved her CFRE accreditation.


BRAVO Sarah! This ROCKS!


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