Michael Bauld, Insight Manager & Legacy Officer at National Trust for Scotland explains the challenges of legacy fundraising for charities in the heritage sector and how big a role legacies play in supporting not just his charity’s major projects but its everyday operations too.
National Trust for Scotland joined Remember A Charity in 2013. Overall, in 2015/16, legacy income accounted for £7,765 of the charity’s £52,937 total income and endowments: a significant increase on the previous year’s legacy income of £4,178.
“Legacies fund everything from conservators to gardeners at properties across Scotland. They have supported stonemason apprentices, upland path maintenance and major capital projects that help bring our heritage to life for visitors. We simply could not operate without them.”
When and why did you join Remember A Charity?
We first got involved after meeting Remember A Charity Director Rob Cope at the Institute of Fundraising Legacy Conference in London in 2013 and it just rolled on from there! Legacies are massively important to our charitable objectives and we believe a sector-wide initiative really builds philanthropic awareness, reassures potential donors that leaving a lasting legacy is important to the charities they support, and also highlights the value of legacies to the sector.
What have legacies enabled your charity to do?
A quarter of all our voluntary income comes from donors whose forward thinking and belief in the importance of our work has led them to leave a legacy to the National Trust for Scotland. Legacies fund everything from conservators to gardeners at properties across Scotland. They have supported stonemason apprentices, upland path maintenance and major capital projects that help bring our heritage to life for visitors. Legacies help us preserve and promote our spaces, places – and the creatures we share them with. We simply could not operate without them.
What are the main challenges you face with legacies?
The main challenge is spreading the message that we are a charity and that legacies are a great way for donors to ensure that we can protect and promote our heritage both today and for generations to come. Many people don’t think about heritage conservation together with a philanthropic need, so we need to work hard to show that the enjoyment and pride people have in our wild landscapes or historic houses just wouldn’t be possible without their generosity. Remember A Charity Week really helps with this, as the conversation about legacies and their importance is amplified and elevated across the country. This is something we want to encourage and help build as well as – hopefully – benefit from.
How do you address this within your fundraising strategy?
Our legacy strategy is driven by our desire to give people who love Scotland the opportunity to engage in a really deep and meaningful way with the work we do as an organisation. Bespoke and behind the scenes events are powerful ways of doing this, and give us the opportunity to highlight the amazing work our experts do that simply couldn’t continue without support.
More broadly, we don’t want to silo discussion about legacies so we try to ensure it runs across everything we do, from member magazines to properties to our special events. The hope is that by raising awareness across our channels and partnering initiatives like Remember a Charity we remind and reinforce the idea in a natural way that legacies are one really important way people can support us.
How has your legacy fundraising evolved in recent years?
In recent years our legacy fundraising has been subtle across our own channels and via partnerships, including with Remember A Charity. We are currently building a new fundraising team who will be more proactive in ensuring that people who care about our cause have the opportunity to support us.
Has anything about legacy fundraising surprised you?
The biggest surprise is always the passion and commitment of legators to make a difference to a cause that they believe in and want others to enjoy. It doesn’t matter how many I meet or speak to, their passion, selflessness and commitment is humbling and hugely motivating. It is a privilege to bring people together through our events and enable legators and experts to meet, and to ensure that someone’s life passion is supported for future generations.
What’s been your experience of Remember A Charity?
Remember A Charity has been a great organisation to work with. While being based in Scotland means the London meetings are difficult to get to, the growing use of technology to keep us involved has been greatly appreciated. The creativity of the campaigns and the ‘noise’ they generate is also of real benefit to us – we don’t always use them verbatim but use the themes to build our own marketing materials.
How did you get involved during Remember A Charity in your Will Week?
Last year we used the week to promote Free Wills Month, which took place in October in Scotland. We got involved across social media, print advertising and at properties, and built on the theme of giving advice to future generations, utilising quotes from famous Scots of the past. We put up posters around some of our key shops as well as placing them in print publications and online. We also got involved in the Remember A Charity supplement in the Herald by providing pledger stories.
What’s been the impact from your activity last Remember A Charity Week?
We received a number of pledges through Remember a Charity Week promotion. The biggest impact however has been on how we promote legacies through digital media. Previously we didn’t use Facebook, Twitter or the homepage of our website. Remember A Charity Week provided great materials, as well as incentive, to help us work with colleagues in other teams and start talking about legacies to a wider audience. We saw a big increase in visitors to our legacy pages across the week and the general reach and exposure of the campaign is where we feel results will show in the long term.
We also scaled up our efforts to brand our shops and even our head office with the Remember A Charity logo. Over time I think staff have become a lot more used to the concept of gifts in Wills and this is a very obvious positive result of the campaigns.
What are the benefits of getting involved with Remember A Charity?
The potential of charitable gifts in Wills is huge. The biggest barrier to this is the number of people who know about legacies as a giving vehicle, or how to go about leaving one. Joining Remember A Charity enables us to help the sector turn up the volume and grow awareness of legacies, and benefits us through amplification of our own activities and greater societal awareness.
Do you have any tips to pass on to fellow fundraisers?
Be positive – giving a gift in your Will is actually a really empowering thing to do, and the positive upbeat nature of the Remember A Charity campaigns shows how this can work. A bit of humour doesn’t hurt either!
Find out more about National Trust for Scotland.