How small charities are making the most of legacy fundraising

15 June 2016

According to Legacy Foresight, legacy giving is on the increase with even greater growth predicted over the next 30 years.  Whilst there is no data available on small charities engaging in legacies, at the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), we are seeing that this is an increasing area of interest for our members, with high demand for our training and advice on how to set up a legacy fundraising programme.

Remember A Charity are seeing similar trends, with over 15% of their current members made up of smaller charities.

So how are small charities maximising legacy fundraising and what can other small charities learn from this?

Balancing short-term and long-term needs

In a small charity, where you may have a sole fundraiser, or more often a member of staff who has had fundraising ‘tacked on’ to their role, undertaking any legacy fundraising activity can take a back seat to more immediate funding needs, and indeed the pressures of delivering services.

Charities who have successfully developed legacy fundraising keep an eye on the long-term whilst balancing this against current and short-term needs.

These charities recognise that by investing in longer-term funding sources, they are improving their sustainability and ensuring they are able to continue delivering vital services and support in the future.

Maximising existing networks and relationships

Small charities can have an advantage over larger charities in that we have a much smaller group of supporter relationships to manage, and therefore are more likely to have personal relationships with our key donors, volunteers, and influencers.

My advice to small charities who are just starting out would be to use your existing communication channels and incorporate your legacy messages into these.

For example, highlight the transformative effect on your beneficiaries or your cause of a past legacy, or a profile of a legacy pledger and why they have chosen to leave a gift in their Will for your charity.

If you are more established and already have this in place, consider a specific mailing or even an event to encourage legacy giving.

Find a legacy champion

I’ve seen some great examples of small charities who have used a high profile supporter or ambassador to spearhead a legacy giving campaign.

National Jazz Archive for example asked one of their celebrity patrons to provide a message of endorsement encouraging supporters to leave a gift in their Will. Others have asked a founder, long-term supporter or volunteer to pledge a gift and have used their testimonial to encourage others to pledge a legacy.

Don’t be afraid to have conversations about legacies

It can feel awkward to be having conversations with people about leaving gifts in their Will.  However, you need to be prepared to have a conversation as simply providing a leaflet or brochure often won’t be enough.

Remember that some of your supporters may not have considered a gift in their Will before so would appreciate having someone to speak to about it.

To make this easier for you, think about the key messaging you would like to get across in advance and make sure that all staff members or volunteers are using the same key messages so there’s consistency.

Janine Edwards, Head of Learning & Business Development at the FSI

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