I’m delighted that this week’s post come’s from guest blogger, Ligia Peña, Global Legacy Manager for Greenpeace International.  Ligia is a true whiz at talking about Legacy Giving Campaigns and she shares with us how to determine your metrics when running a planned giving campaign.

Thank you Ligia!  Over to you!

What gets measured, gets done.

It’s a phrase that many of us have heard, and is certainly true in fundraising. For our fundraising campaigns to succeed, it is crucial that we measure our results to understand what is working and what is not. Of course, measurement is much easier for fundraising programs where the return on investment is seen more quickly, like with direct mail or grant applications, but what about funding streams where the return comes much later?

It’s a question I am asked all the time as a Legacy Manager. Even with legacy fundraising campaigns, we need to measure our success, but how do we do this if we don’t know when the gift will be realized?

Indeed, in planned giving, in general, it’s more difficult to gauge future revenue, but there are a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you to determine your program’s effectiveness. Projected revenue is an important measure, but a number of other factors can also speak volumes about how well you are able to move donors through the legacy pipeline. Here are just a few examples, and are based upon the metrics we use at Greenpeace in particular:

Current Donors

This KPI can be defined in a multitude of ways depending upon your objectives and the longevity of your fundraising program. When you start out with your legacy giving program, you might define this as “any financial supporter over the age of 55 who has donated in the last two years.”  As a key target legacy giving group, this KPI helps you to determine the size of the pool of prospects you can work through your pipeline.


 At Greenpeace we define this KPI as “the number of new legacy supporters who have requested information on leaving a legacy and are considering their decision.” This is the entry point for legacy conversation with your supporters. It speaks to how well your legacy marketing and communications are generating interest and conversations with your supporters. If no one is enquiring about how to leave a legacy, you are probably not communicating enough, or you are not offering a strong enough argument to inspire donors to consider making a gift in their will to you.


This can be defined as “the number of new legacy supporters who have explicitly expressed their intention to leave a legacy.” This KPI demonstrates how efficient you are at moving supporters from a consideration to the intention stage. This is where you help them and their advisor by providing sample wording, etc.

Now at this point, you should have figures for supporters who are entering and moving through your pipeline, so the next KPIs pertain to supporters who have confirmed they are leaving you a gift in their will. These subtle yet very informative KPIs will further help you gain a better understanding of where your legacies come from.

Existing Pledgers

These include “the number of new legacy supporters where the donor was already engaged in previous legacy conversation.”  In other words, if the pledger was already known to you because you had engaged them within your pipeline, you will count him in this category. This helps you to determine how many people are saying yes to a direct ask about the donor leaving a gift in their will.

Known Pledgers

The next category is “the number of new supporters where the donor had no previous legacy conversation but was a donor in some way.” These are people who have left a gift in their will to you who were in your database, but had never been involved in any direct communication with you about legacies. This KPI tells you how well you are at communicating about legacies even if you are not working donors through the pipeline.

Unknown Pledgers

“Number of new legacy supporters where the donor is not known in any capacity to the organization.” In simple terms, these are people who have left a gift in their will to you, but you had no apparent previous connection with the organization. This KPI speaks both to the strength of your communications as well as how well your branding is working for you. 50% of legacies at Greenpeace come from unknown pledgers. We can only assume that they are doing so because the brand and the campaigns we run globally resonate with them in some way.

Expected Revenue

When it comes to measuring predicted revenue, one key advantage is that executors must provide a statement of accounts of an estate to all beneficiaries every six months (in Canada, but this is not the same in all countries). This information will help you calculate expected revenue of your realized legacy gifts. By measuring this information against actual revenues, you can get a clearer idea of when money is likely to come into your program.

Keeping it Moving

The key to success with legacy giving is ensuring that figures in all these KPIs are continually growing. Stagnating figures could mean your supporters are not moving through the pipeline, or that you do not have enough financial or human resources to manage your pool of legacy prospects and pledgers.

So take a step back and take a look at your program.  What could be standing in the way of your success with regard to driving forward a successful legacy giving program?  Do you need to change how you manage your donors, or invest more heavily in donor stewardship?

My FREE Stewardship Checklist shows you how to build a lasting connection with your donors so that they keep giving, stay engaged and give more!

Remember…a gift confirmation does not mean supporters should be left to their own devices. Let’s not forget that Wills can be changed therefore, it’s important to continue communicating impact on a regular basis and create heartfelt and engaging communications and events where your pledgers can connect with people in the organization.

There are in fact many KPIs that you can use to track your success; this list gives a helpful starting point.  You might find that if are launching a new program, you might not have much to report on at first, but there is no doubt that with careful planning, thoughtful communications, adequate investment and much support, your organization can build a strong and successful legacy program in no time.

Ligia Peña, CFRE is the Global Legacy Manager at Greenpeace International.  For the past 15 years, she has been working with a wide range of organizations ranging from mental health, environmental education, at-risk youths to international NGOs. Her true passion has always been to empower small non-profits to be strong, resilient and sustainable so they may realize their important mission. She is the author of the ‘Small Shop Fundraising’ chapter in the 2nd volume of Excellence in Fundraising in Canada as well as several articles in various electronic and print publications. Ligia is very active in the non-profit sector having served on several boards. She currently serves on several committees at AFP International, has served five years on the Quebec Chapter of the AFP and is a member in good standing of the CAGP-ACPDP.

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