\u201cLegacies have enabled us to do things that we wouldn\u2019t otherwise be able to do. They are vital to our future ambitions.\u201d\r\n\r\nGeoff Sweeney, Development Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, talks about the challenges of legacy fundraising in the arts and the ballet company\u2019s evolution to embrace legacy fundraising as a core part of its fundraising strategy.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat has been your organisation\u2019s experience of legacies at the Birmingham Royal Ballet?\r\n\r\nWe have been fundraising in legacies for the past decade. Our experience is relatively recent and has been nothing but positive.\r\n\r\nWe have moved from a place where the organisation didn\u2019t really feel comfortable talking about legacies, to a place where we are much more confident and engaged in the importance of legacy promotion.\r\n\r\nFor our supporters, it is a natural extension of their relationship and support of the organisation and they are happy to engage in those legacy conversations.\r\n\r\nHow important do you think legacies are to the arts?\r\n\r\nUp until recently, the arts didn\u2019t have that much of a need to fundraise, but with all the funding cuts, we now have to earn much more of our income through philanthropy. That has meant that many organisations have been pushed into fundraising and legacies is an important part of that.\r\n\r\nCertainly until five years ago, there was quite a lot of inexperience when it comes to fundraising in the arts.\r\n\r\nWe [Birmingham Royal Ballet] were slightly ahead of the curve as we have been doing this now for about ten years. Legacies are a key part of our overall fundraising mix and strategy.\r\n\r\nWhat have legacies enabled Birmingham Royal Ballet to do?\r\n\r\nFor us they are incredibly important. They are the difference between delivering all the added value that we do. We still earn public subsidies and make money through ticket sales, but \u2013 increasingly \u2013 all our other projects are funded by generous legacy gifts. This has led to new community and school programmes, capital investment in our studio and more. All these things have been contributed to by people that have supported us in their Will.\r\n\r\nLegacies have enabled us to do things that we wouldn\u2019t otherwise be able to do and they are central to our future ambitions\r\n\r\nWhat are the main challenges you face with legacies?\r\n\r\nThe challenges are that you can\u2019t really predict when the income is going to come in. So for a charity of our size, not a large national organisation, we get peaks and troughs. We get nice surprises at key moments. Occasionally, some big legacies come across that are really transformational for the organisation.\r\n\r\nThe challenge is to create a steady volume of legacies that will mean it is an income stream that we can continually rely on.\r\n\r\nAlso, we can\u2019t always qualify all the gifts of what people promise within their wills and this doesn\u2019t give us the opportunity to talk about where their gift might make more impact.\r\n\r\nHow do you address this within your fundraising strategy?\r\n\r\nWe spend a lot of time communicating our needs and why legacies are so important.\r\n\r\nWe run a legacy giving circle to keep in touch with those that have expressed an interest in supporting us in their wills. This is where we can demonstrate our commitment to supporters, telling stories of what is being done with legacies, reassuring donors about how their gift will be will be stewarded. This is where we communicate that they will be remembered, they will have an impact and we celebrate that impact.\r\n\r\nTypically the legacy giving circle might feature receptions where we invite supporters to meet with the top directors at the ballet company, our creative team and dancers, so that they can get a better insight, into what we do. It doesn\u2019t\u2019 have to be an expensive, glitzy event, but it is a great opportunity for them to learn more about how we work and the impact of legacy gifts.\r\n\r\nThis approach also means that senior members of staff understand the importance of legacies and that alone pays dividends.\r\n\r\nWhat has been your experience of Remember A Charity?\r\n\r\nWe joined Remember A Charity in 2013 to be part of a much bigger campaign, gain confidence and normalise what was perceived as a difficult conversation both internally and amongst our supporters.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s worked well for us and last year\u2019s Remember A Charity week was a real success. It was another opportunity for us to communicate with supporters about leaving gifts in wills. We had a good response to our \u2018Words of Wisdom\u2019 mailing campaign which gave us new supporter insights, deepened relationships, helped us qualify a number of legacy gifts and attract new pledges.\r\n\r\nA particular highlight was that one gentleman responded by making an immediate gift of \u00a35,000 because \u2018he didn\u2019t want to wait to die to do something meaningful!\u2019\r\n\r\nFind out more about\u00a0Birmingham Royal Ballet.