10 simple tips for effective legacy fundraising

26 February 2015

Legacies, or gifts in Wills raise a staggering £2bn every year for UK charities and this is set to triple over the next 40 years.  Yet many charities are all too often unsure about how to talk to their supporters about legacies, or concerned about causing offence.

We have put together 10 tips to help you find your voice and have amazing legacy conversations, raising 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 this – we’re not talking about the mechanics of Will making and death and dying.

2. Family first

For many people with children, the idea of leaving money to charity could be seen as disinheriting your family.

So it is important to use ‘family first’ messaging to overcome this barrier, such as ‘after providing for your loved ones, please consider leaving us a share of what is left’.

3. Drip the message

If we are going to encourage more people to leave gifts in their Wills, we need to make legacy giving a normal act, which comes from overcoming taboos and including legacy fundraising as part of your everyday supporter conversations.

4. Know your audience

Think carefully about the groups that are most likely to want to leave a gift to your cause.

The more specific you can be the better. This allows you to define your audiences, understand their motivations and target them accordingly.

5. Know your story

It isn’t enough to ask for a legacy, you need to be able to explain the difference their gift will make.

Think about your vision. You are asking people to leave a gift that will achieve something big in the future, and you should be able to communicate your legacy message simply.

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.

Think about how you can start up a conversation with things such as a bookmarks distributed in charity shops. Make sure your staff and volunteers are trained to have a simple legacy conversation if the opportunity arises.

7. Make it easy

One of the inherent problems with legacy fundraising is that making a Will is something we love to put off.

So it is 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 or download a copy of your brochure?

8. Use the right language

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

The word ‘legacy’ can be construed as something large and only for the rich. Used in the right way it can add a sense of importance, but it is more accessible to talk about ‘gifts in Wills’. It does what it says on the tin, so be clear and avoid jargon.

9. Measure what you do

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

We suggest measuring the volume of your communications, the feedback you receive and the numbers of legacies per year. And look for an upward trend!

10. Look after your supporters

The simplest piece of advice is to treat your supporters well.

The warmer they feel about you and the longer the relationship, the more likely they are to consider leaving you a gift. Nurture them long into the future.

Ashley Rowthorn – freelance legacy fundraising consultant at Legacy Voice, member of Remember A Charity’s Campaign Council.

Find out how your charity could benefit from joining the Remember A Charity consortium here.