How should we measure legacy success?

26 April 2017

Allan Freeman gives his top five tips for measuring success in legacy fundraising. 

Measurement and analysis is interesting and sexy to some, whilst others see it as dull and lacking in creativity. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter which perspective you take. The reality is that measuring legacy marketing is fundamental for legacies to be taken as seriously as they should be.

But we need to be realistic and understand the context. Legacies are not as mechanistic as regular giving, and we can’t yet identify exactly when legacy income will be received (although according to this relatively recent BBC article that may not be so far away).

We can prove legacy marketing’s return

We can create a pipeline that calculates the future value being brought to the organisation and we can show how legacy fundraising can prove that it is directly driving income that wouldn’t have been received otherwise; we can clearly demonstrate the incremental value of the marketing that has been undertaken.

1. Create, monitor and measure

But as with any other strategy, we must create, monitor and measure KPI’s that are relevant to our organisation and then react to what they are telling us.

Of course, it’s very easy to over analyse and complicate, but the old adage of “what gets measured gets done” has an element of truth to it.

2. Be strategic

Those few organisations that are world class in their legacy fundraising: those that treat legacies as strategically important and see it as a cross – organisation income stream are the ones that embrace the opportunity.

This isn’t simple. It is much easier just to talk about an ageing population, to talk about a market that still has plenty of headroom or to suggest developing a letter of wishes than to create a long-term strategy that the whole organisation embraces.

We know from independent research that what charities are doing and what we are doing together via Remember A Charity is increasing the proportion of people who leave a gift in their Will.

3. Inspire people

This is a really positive improvement. But we can also see that many charity supporters and prospective legators are still really early in their consideration of legacies – for them they have just not thought about it very much and why should they?

If we want our audiences to embrace legacies then we need to think about it from their perspective. Our challenge is to understand what might encourage and inspire them to leave a gift.

4. Focus on the donor

We need to be more thoughtful about them. More focused around the donor.

The reality is that for many people it is still a private and personal decision and yet we often still focus on getting them to pledge. We also need to remember that leaving a legacy can be a hugely emotional decision, this means it can take time – sometimes a long time.

5. Think long-term

So, when we create our internal measures we need to reflect these realities and reduce our concentration on short term thinking.

It may not be easy or simple, but there are (according to TGI) around 5,000,000 people who are over 50, who donate to charity and would consider leaving a gift in their Will.

And at the moment, there are less than 50,000 charitable estates a year so we’re barely scratching the surface of the opportunity – we know the legacy potential is still huge.

Allan Freeman, Freestyle Marketing