The United States is presently in the midst of the largest generational transfer of wealth in history. Most estimates project the amount of this wealth transfer to be upwards of 41 trillion dollars between the years 1998 through 2053. Churches have not capitalized on the opportunity presented by this generational wealth transfer. Also, many churches have not educated their membership about their responsibility to wisely prepare for executing this upcoming wealth transfer in a God honoring way.
In most churches, the stewardship focus has been on tithes and offering giving that comes from members’ income and “liquid assets,” which may represent only a small portion of a member’s net worth. Certainly it is good for the church to instill this discipline of current giving, but the discipline of financial stewardship should also include an attitude of legacy giving.
What is a legacy gift?
n It is a gift over and above tithes and offerings. It is a gift out of assets, not out of income.
n It is a gift that can’t be put in the offering plate.
n It is a gift made in light of the giver’s overall estate and financial plans.
n It is a gift that uses tax-advantaged methods to accomplish the giver’s objectives.
n It is a gift that may require professional adviser assistance to complete the contribution.
Developing a coordinated legacy giving effort is how the church can capitalize on the tidal wave of opportunity presented by this generational wealth transfer. The legacy gifts that transpire from the churches’ stewardship education efforts will most certainly provide additional “above and beyond” financial resources that will permit the church to enhance and expand its programs and ministries. Such an effort will also encourage church members to “Honor the Lord with (their) substance” (Proverbs 3:9).
As church leadership prays about its obligation to educate church members about the stewardship of legacy giving, the leadership should determine how legacy gifts will be used to further the church’s mission and what kingdom impact will result from receiving legacy gifts.
How does a church get started in developing its personalized legacy giving ministry? An excellent first step is to contact the Kentucky Baptist Foundation. We welcome the opportunity to explain our legacy gift program development assistance. You may contact us at our toll-free number (866) 489-3533.
Richard Carnes is the president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation, P.O. Box 436389, Louisville, KY 40253; toll-free (866) 489-3533; KYBaptistFoundation.org.