It’s Not About the Grim Reaper

May 19, 2011 was Planned Giving Day here in Washington state. I confess I only knew this because the Washington Planned Giving Council was kind enough to ask me to come present at their conference.

What I realized in preparing for my talk and at the conference (which included a great talk by Lawrence Henze of Blackbaud, who wittily shared info from their cornucopia of white papers and analytics) was that planned giving isn’t simply about the grim reaper. It’s about legacy.

That word–legacy–is interesting. We generally hear people talk about leaving a legacy. To me, “leaving a legacy” sounds like you’re leaving your luggage or leaving Las Vegas. It sounds passive and doesn’t inspire action… until you’re dead, at which time it’s tough to take action.

“Building a legacy”, on the other hand, sounds important and epic. It sounds like something worth doing something about. It makes me wonder how I can build one.

Often times, we take phrases for granted because we say them so often. If we’re going to inspire people to take action, we’ve got to constantly revisit the words and phrases we use–both those that are said and read. Otherwise, people might get stuck on the Grim Reaper and never get around to building their legacy.