Nonprofits received more than $23.41 billion in bequests according to the most recent edition of Giving USA. All of those gifts came in different forms and, as Elizabeth Ziemba, J.D., M.P.H. wrote in her book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Giving Back," it’s important for fundraising officers to clearly understand their differences.
Ziemba noted that there are four distinct types of bequests that can be made in a will. All of these can be mixed and matched in the donor’s will, depending on giving goals. The four types are:
- Pecuniary Bequest: A gift of a fixed or stated sum of money designated in a donor’s will.
- Specific Bequest: A gift of a designated or specific item in the will. The item will most likely be sold by the organization and the proceeds would benefit that nonprofit.
- Residuary Bequest: A gift of all or a portion of the remainder of the donor’s assets after all other bequests have been made as well as debts and taxes paid.
- Contingent Bequest: A gift in a will made on the condition of a certain event that may or may not happen. A contingent bequest is specific and fails if the condition is not made.