When I talk to people about my job as a legacy fundraiser, the first response I usually get is “I couldn’t do your job, all that talk about death and dying”.
Most people see legacy fundraising as a double taboo subject – death and money – and we certainly shouldn’t talk about those things. We’re British for goodness sake.
But the fact is, legacies aren’t about death, they are about life. Professor Russell James refers to them as a the final chapter in a persons autobiography. A reflection of their life, values and experiences.
And every day, thousands of lives are changed thanks to gifts in Wills. So I believe legacies are something we should all be proud of.
We must remember that when we talk about legacies. We’re not talking about the mechanics of Will making and death and dying, instead we’re asking people to think about the things they are passionate about in life and to help them continue into the future.
Naturally we need to talk about Wills because that is how we ensure our wishes are carried out after we are gone. But do not get confused about our role – we are fundraisers not legal advisers – so keep the practicalities clear and simple and focus on inspiring your supporters.
And that is true not just for us fundraisers, but everyone in our charity, from the volunteers on the ground to the Chief Executive at the top. Make sure your stories remind them how important gifts in Wills are to your charity – the lives they have saved, the groundbreaking research they have funded, the projects they have stopped from closing – and how much you need them for your future.
Building a positive legacy culture is something that is worth spending time on, because the more people that you can get to talk about gifts in Wills, the more people you will reach and the more money you will raise.
Last year the Institute of Fundraising and Revolutionise produced a brilliant guide to developing a positive fundraising culture. The same principles can be applied to legacy fundraising so if you haven’t already seen the toolkit it is well worth reading. Download a copy from the IoF website.
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