How Can You “Vaccinate” Your Nonprofit for Good Financial Health?

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has caused death and economic destruction around the world. The nonprofit sector has not been immune from the ravages of COVID-19.

While some charities have held their own when it comes to fundraising, or have even managed an uptick, others have experienced a downturn. If the economy doesn’t fully recover, and quickly, all organizations may find fundraising more difficult in the months and years ahead. With a corresponding drop in earned income, the financial health of charities is in danger.

Richard Radcliffe is the Founder of Radcliffe Consulting based in the UK. He recently wrote a passionate article explaining how charities can ensure their financial health and security in the years ahead. Because he is kind and cares deeply about the wellbeing of the third sector, Richard has given me permission to share his wisdom with you:


Legacies are the “vaccine” for good, long-term financial health for your nonprofit organization.

Legacies are a security blanket, a treasure trove to dip into to GROW or to protect your charity in times of emergency.

Individual giving does not build reserves.

Trusts and Foundations give for projects.

Statutory funding is project or service-based.

Corporate funds are largely restricted or for dual interest.

What is there NOT to like about legacies? The answer is simple: It is wanting money NOW – rather like a baby screaming to be fed NOW.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The future depends on what you do today.” But legacies are not gained today or tomorrow. And bad leaders only think of today whilst in their seats of power.

Investing in legacies is like dieting: “Great idea but let’s leave it for another day.” And then a pandemic hits and all hell breaks out. Furloughed staff, redundancies, reduction in services.

Good leaders are visionaries who plan to fulfill their charity’s vision and mission AFTER their own lifetime as leaders.

Good leaders look at their charity’s accounts, the statement of financial activities, and the balance sheet and ask, “How can we secure success?”

Bad leaders look at their accounts and ask, “How can we get more money NOW?”

Sadly, short-termism often governs decision making.

The even more depressing fact is that so little money needs to be invested in “future financial health.” A modest investment today can yield a massive return tomorrow.

While I am thrilled that legacy giving has almost doubled globally in 15 years, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

As COVID-19 bites us more painfully, Will writing is going through the roof. Grab the moment now to secure your charity’s future beyond your lifetime.

Yes, I am frustrated, angry, and passionate, but the moment I lose these feelings is the moment to get the hell out of legacies.

Now, please grab the vaccine.


While we might not be able to cure charities of short-term thinking, the good news is that legacy giving is not the enemy of the short-term. Some charity leaders fear that legacy giving will divert philanthropy away from the annual fund. However, research proves that that is not the case. Not only will legacy donors continue to support their favorite charities on an annual basis, their support will actually increase once they have made their planned gift commitment. You can learn more here.

Some charity leaders have become paralyzed by the pandemic. They fear it is not a good time to pursue legacy giving. However, as Richard suggests, this is actually an excellent time to promote legacy giving provided that you approach people in the right way. You can learn more about how to do that by reading a free white paper on the topic that you can find here.

If you have concerns about the ethics of seeking legacy gifts during a pandemic or other emergency, Rogaré, the fundraising think tank, has published a white paper reviewing the issues involved and concluding that, done the right way, legacy gift promotion is ethical. You can download the free report here.

Legacy giving represents enormous potential for nonprofits. In the best of times, legacy gifts can allow charities to expand services today or endow the future. In hard times, legacy gifts can provide much-needed security. Organizations that invested in legacy giving years ago are much better off today than they otherwise would have been.

Just over a year ago, my aunt died. Shortly before her passing, she included a local, no-kill animal shelter in her estate plan. As a result, this small charity received a significant legacy gift just as the coronavirus pandemic was gaining traction. That gift helped ensure the health of that community-based organization as well as the cats and dogs it cares for.

Legacy giving can help ensure the health of your organization, too. If you want to learn how I can assist you with creating or growing a legacy-giving program, please contact me.

That’s what Michael Rosen and Richard Radcliffe say… What do you say?


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