One of the key developments in legacy fundraising over the course of my career has been a focus on integrating legacy fundraising into the heart of organisations. This drive is rooted in the knowledge that it’s often our colleagues in supporter care, community fundraising or service delivery who have the most contact, and strongest relationships, with those people who might consider remembering the organisation in their will.
If you’re seeking to motivate your colleagues to talk about gifts in wills there’s lots of sage advice we could share from making sure you have a senior level advocate in the organisation to holding regular awareness events. However, what do you do if you’re starting internal engagement from scratch, with limited resource and senior people who aren’t yet hugely involved? We share our top five tips for getting started below:
Be a passionate advocate for legacy giving
It’s an amazing privilege to work in gifts in wills fundraising. Gifts in wills are the summation of a life, telling a story of an individual’s personal experience, the people that they love and the values that they hold. Most legacy fundraisers I’ve met feel the same, and there’s nothing more compelling than hearing someone talk passionately and authentically about a topic that they love. Don’t hold back from sharing your love for legacies with your organisation whenever you have the chance!
Influence the influencers
Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given on internal integration was to seek out those people in your organisation who seem to be enthusiastic about new initiatives – those people who like to get involved – and get them onboard with gifts in wills. You can find these people at all levels and all roles within the organisation, and, if you can bring them with you, they’ll help you get the rest of your colleagues engaged.
Most legacy fundraisers will know how powerful stories about legacy giving can be when we share them with our supporters – but they can be just as effective when we share them internally, ingraining a range of messages such as ‘normal people can leave legacies’, ‘gifts in wills can make a huge impact’ or ‘talking about legacies makes a real difference to people’s decision making’. And alongside inspiring people about the potential of gifts in wills, the stories you share can, in turn, be passed on colleagues when talking to supporters, volunteers and the wider public.
Make legacy fundraising fun
Those of us working in legacy fundraising know how interesting, life-affirming and satisfying it is to work with gifts in wills. It’s easy to forget that for our colleagues, who might never have worked in this space, the words ‘legacy fundraising’ can summon up a whole range of negative associations around death, money, and legal jargon. Implementing the tips above will hopefully start to shift those perceptions, but we can also deliberately bring some fun to the topic whether that’s through activities such as quizzes, competitions, or sharing stories that bring a little humour to the topic.
Give people concrete ways to get involved
Implementing the tips above should help to get people inspired. However, they also need to know how to turn that inspiration into action. There are a range of ways you can do that from providing training, to creating conversation guides. However, something as simple as a half page document with four or five ways to drop gifts into wills into conversation can be a great place to start.
Hopefully these tips will help you to get started in putting legacy fundraising at the heart of your charity. If you have any others to share with the sector, we’d love to hear them.
Dr Claire Routley, Head of Gifts in Wills Consultancy