Major donors and asking for a legacy: ‘It’s worth a go’ Or ‘It’s not worth the risk’

Published by Richard Radcliffe on

Definition of WORTH

(with apologies to the Oxford English Dictionary for a few VERY minor changes – but only in the example sentences)


1: equivalent in value to the sum or item specified.

“A donation worth over €10,000 is defined as a major donation”

having income or property amounting to a specified sum.

“WOW – she is worth over €20 million”2: sufficiently good, important, or interesting to be treated or regarded in the way specified.

img (2)“that guy is worth checking out so we know how much to ask for”

used to suggest that the specified course of action may be advisable.

“It is well worth the Chief Executive meeting her face to face” or “it is worth making sure she does not meet the Chief Executive he is SO bad face to face”


1: the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

“her investment portfolio is not huge but look at her properties – she is the best legacy prospect

an amount of a commodity equivalent to a specified sum of money.

“oh my God she has 100,000 shares in the Radcliffe Hedge Fund –that must be worth €50 million. Is it worth asking for shares or a cash gift?”

synonyms: value, financial value, monetary value, price, asking price, selling price, cost; valuation, quotation, estimate, assessment “a fundraiser may require independent evidence of the donor’s worth”

2: high value or merit.

USDGiven the context of a man seemingly re-evaluating his sense of inner worth, is it worth inviting him to our party at Buckingham Palace?”

synonyms: benefit, advantage, use, value, virtue, usefulness, utility, service, gain, profit, avail, validity, help, assistance, aid; desirability, attractiveness, allure, appeal; significance, point, sense; “the intrinsic worth of charity” worthiness, merit, meritoriousness, credit, value, excellence, calibre, quality, stature, eminence, greatness, consequence, importance, significance, distinction, superiority; gifts, talents, strengths, endowments “Benefactor club members have a sense of belonging and personal worth


3: the amount that could be achieved or produced in a specified time

(OK, I admit it, we have a legacy problem here – the “specified time” is usually unknown!)


WORTH should be the most important word in fundraising research. The definitions of those five letters summarise virtually the whole fundraising cycle. But there are perhaps a few extra thoughts worth considering:

It’s worth a go to ask for a legacy: as long as –

  • you understand the motivations of a major donor to leave a legacy rather than a major gift
  • you get the timing and place right.

And that is what we will be discussing at the fabulous IFC 2014 in the session: “Major donors and making the best legacy ask”.

ExperimentThe session is run three times (one session includes Rosemary Oliver from Canada and another Jan Rachels from Belgium) but it is only worth coming once unless you want a more global perspective.

But it is not worth the risk by not coming; you will learn lots on legacy giving, the different types of major donors, motivations and conversations you can anywhere.

The Oxford English Dictionary is a source of pure gold:

Worth – example sentences

  • the moral criterion is the measure we use for determining the value or worth of an action, principle, rule or attitude.
  • Assess your job role now, compared to what it was when you started, so that you can put a value on your current worth. (You will be worth more if you come to the IFC 2014)
  • However, the modern Dutch cow creamer is worth one-tenth the value of an 18th century English one. (I could not resist this really extraordinary example – see you in Holland!)


International Fundraising Congress (IFC)This post is part of the 2014 IFC Series. 101fundraising is proud to be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress! Check out HERE when Richard is presenting at the IFC.

Richard Radcliffe

Richard Radcliffe is founder of Radcliffe Consulting, which helps charities to get more legacies. He is author of “Why legacies are brilliant for charities and how to get them,” recently published by Smee & Ford. He has almost 30 years’ experience in legacy fundraising and works across our globe.


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