Dogs Trust

Philip Simmons, Legacy Officer at Dogs Trust explains how Remember A Charity has helped the charity evolve its legacy fundraising by providing them with a bigger platform for talking about legacies, and increasing their confidence in how to approach the subject with both supporters and staff.

Legacies make up a third of Dogs Trust’s income, accounting for £30.4m of its total income in 2016.

“Legacies are vital to us but can be a difficult subject to raise with supporters. Remember A Charity In Your Will Week has really given us the opportunity to spread awareness to our own staff as well as to supporters, and our legacy fundraising has evolved to the point that we now feel comfortable talking to supporters.”

Why did you join Remember A Charity?

Legacies are vital to us, and to all charities. Without the generosity of our supporters we wouldn’t be able to care for and rehome as many of our canine friends to loving new homes. Many charities wouldn’t be able to survive or would have to vastly restrict their services without them.

For Dogs Trust, legacies make up a third of our income but it can be a difficult subject to raise with supporters because of its sensitive nature.  It made sense to join Remember A Charity because by enabling charities to come together as one voice, it gives us a bigger platform for talking about legacies.

What have legacies enabled your charity to do?

Legacies have helped us to do so much, including opening more state of the art rehoming centres, building vet suites and training halls – all to care for our four legged friends. We care for over 15,000 dogs a year and that is in no small part down to the generosity of our kind supporters who have left gifts in their Wills.

What are the main challenges with legacies?

Being able to talk about them. It’s about striking a balance between trying to tell people how important they are while also being sensitive because it can often be a very personal and emotional matter.

How do you address this within your fundraising strategy?

Part of the strategy was definitely joining Remember A Charity. Having a dedicated week to talk about legacies has really helped break the taboo and make it the norm for people to consider leaving a gift to charity in their Will.

How has your legacy fundraising evolved in recent years?

Our legacy fundraising has evolved to the point that we now feel comfortable talking to supporters about this subject.  Also I think the way we communicate has changed, with social media now a good way to speak to more people. For Remember A Charity Week, social media is used heavily and has proven effective.

Has anything about legacy fundraising surprised you?

I’m constantly surprised by how deeply kind and incredibly generous people can be and am often moved by people’s reasons behind leaving a legacy to Dogs Trust and other charities; there is a real sense of pride.   

What’s been your experience of Remember A Charity?

It’s great for bringing everyone together and learning from each other. We meet four times a year and being able to bounce ideas off other charities is invaluable. Also, Remember A Charity in your Will Week gives us a real opportunity to focus departments in the organisation on legacies as we work with them in the build up to the event as well as then having the whole week dominated by the subject.

How did you get involved during Remember A Charity in your Will Week?

Last year was probably the most we have done in Remember A Charity week, pulling together several different teams (and our canine friends too) to reach out to as many people as possible. The theme was ‘What words of wisdom would you pass on to the next generation?’ Our CEO got involved and shared his words of wisdom, as well as various other members of staff and corporate partners. We asked members of the public to write their words of wisdom on speech bubbles, which were displayed in our charity shops and rehoming centres. Using social media we could also ask our supporters the question and see what their words of wisdom were. They were amazing and there were some great quotes, which we posted on Twitter, Facebook and instagram. Also having pictures of cute dogs always helps any message!   

What was the impact of your activity during last year’s Remember A Charity Week? 

It’s hard to track actual legacy pledges although we do get people on social media responding to our posts saying they have left us a legacy. Our most popular post, and also my favourite, was on Instagram from our CEO. He shared his words of wisdom and it got 827 likes.

Last year we also saw 259 people visit our legacy pages compared to 187 the previous week. It may not sound a lot but considering how valuable a legacy can be to us it certainly shows a bigger awareness.

What are the main benefits of joining Remember A Charity?

I think the main strength of Remember A Charity is the wealth of knowledge you have access to from other members, which can help you shape your own legacy plan. Remember A Charity really brings charities together to shout about the importance of legacies. The work they’re doing with solicitors is also vital and could have a big impact on gifts in Wills for all charities.

Having a week in September dedicated to talking about legacies is also a really good way to get everyone in your organisation involved and understanding a bit more about what you do.  Remember A Charity in your Will Week has really given us the opportunity to spread awareness to our own staff as well as to supporters.

What tip would you pass on to fellow fundraisers?

Don’t be afraid to speak to supporters about the importance of legacies.

Find out more about Dogs Trust.