Phrasing the Charitable Bequest Inquiry

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Abstract

This paper reports interest levels associated with twenty-three different phrasings of a request to leave a gift to charity in a will among 9964 survey respondents. Previous research suggests that a review of one’s life story may be an important component of bequest decision-making. Other findings suggest that mortality reminders may increase support for social norms and the pursuit of symbolic immortality. The attempts to reference symbolic immortality tested here were not effective. However, results supported avoiding extraneous death terms (“that will take effect at my death”) and using social norms (“many people like to leave a gift to charity in their wills”). The strongest support arose for the addition of the phrase “to support causes that have been important in their/your life/lives” to explain either the respondent’s or the social norm exemplars’ intent in making such a gift. Among common terms, “a gift to charity in your will” generated greater interest than substitute terms such as “bequest,” “leave a legacy” or “remember your favorite charities.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1011
Number of pages14
JournalVoluntas
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Bequest philanthropy
  • Charitable bequest
  • Charitable estate planning
  • Legacy giving
  • Planned giving

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