for effective legacy fundraising

Legacies, or gifts in Wills raise a staggering £4bn every year for UK charities and this is set to double over the next 20 years.  Yet many charities are all too often unsure about how to talk to their supporters about legacy fundraising, or concerned about causing offence.

So we have put together 10 tips to help you find your voice and have more amazing legacy conversations – and raise even more money for your causes.

1. Be proud of legacies

Professor Russell James talks about the legacy gift being the final chapter in a person’s life story. A reflection of someone’s life, values and experiences. We must remember that when we talk about legacy fundraising. 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.

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2. Family first

For many people with children, the idea of leaving money to charity could be seen as somehow disinheriting your family. So it is really important to use ‘family first’ messaging when talking about legacy giving to overcome this barrier. Many charities adopt this strategy by using language such as ‘after providing for your loved ones, please consider leaving us a share of what is left’. And think about the importance of In Memory as a motivation to connect your charity with the donor.

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3. Drip the message

If we are going to encourage more people to leave charitable gifts in their Wills, we need to make legacy giving a normal thing to do, which comes by overcoming the taboos and including legacy fundraising as part of your everyday conversation with supporters. To achieve this, you need to integrate your legacy message right across your organisation and in as many places as possible.

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4. Know your audience

Think carefully about who you are talking to. Or more specifically, think about the groups of people that are most likely to want to leave a gift to your cause in their Will. The more specific you can be, the better, because it allows you to clearly define your audiences, understand their motivations and target them accordingly.

Remember, legacy giving is not about your charity, it is all about the donor.

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5. Know your story

It isn’t good enough simply to ask for a legacy, although that is a great start, you need to be able to explain why you need their gift and the difference it will make. This is your legacy proposition.

Think about your vision and what you are trying to achieve as an organisation. You are asking people to join you and leave a gift that will achieve something big in the future. You should be able to communicate your legacy message simply and clearly – in one sentence if possible.

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6. A conversation works best

Research from Remember a Charity shows that if you spend just 45 minutes talking to each of your donors they will actively consider leaving you a gift in their Will.

Think about how you can start up a conversation with your supporters about legacy fundraising. Maybe you could create a simple conversation starter such as a bookmark and distribute it in your charity shops with every purchase. Make sure your staff and volunteers are prepared and trained to be able to have a simple legacy conversation if the opportunity arises.

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7. Make it easy

One of the inherent problems with legacy fundraising is that making a Will is something we love to put off. A study by unbiased.co.uk revealed that two thirds of the adult population aged between 35 and 54 have not made a Will with the number one reason being apathy.

So it is really important to make it as easy as possible for people to make a Will and leave you a legacy. Consider your website – how is it easy to find your legacy pages? And when you get there, can you easily download a copy of your legacy brochure or find the necessary information?

8. Use the right language

Language is so important and something we need to use with care.

Even the word ‘Legacy’ for example can be off putting to many people as it can be construed as something large and only for the rich. Used in the right way it can add an extra sense of importance, but on the whole it is preferable and more accessible to talk about ‘Gifts in Wills’ or ‘a gift in your Will’. It does what it says on the tin.

So make sure you use clear, accessible language and avoid jargon at all costs.

9. Measure what you do

Legacy fundraising is inherently difficult to measure. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

We suggest measure 3 things – the volume of your communications, the feedback you receive from those communications and the numbers of legacies you get each year. And look for an upward trend!

10. Look after your supporters

The simplest piece of advice to help you raise more money from legacies is to treat your supporters well. The warmer your supporters feel about you and the longer their relationship with you, the more likely they are to consider leaving you a gift in their Will. Also, after all your hard work of generating interest from your legacy fundraising programme you want to make sure that these supporters are treated well and nurtured long into the future.

Legacy Inspire

Are you looking for more inspiration to shape or develop your legacy fundraising strategy? Legacy Inspire is our new initiative to help you develop powerful legacy communications on a budget.

Find out more