Let’s SWOT

31 March 2017

My brain is having a bit of a problem. It is lacking clarity of focus. This is not due to ageing (yet!), alcohol, fatigue, boredom, lack of interest or enthusiasm.

It is due to the number of issues facing us all in the world of the dead giveaway.

I do not want you become depressed. I want you to become even more excited and dancing from the rooftops (a dangerous activity, although the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins did it really well).

The next 30 years will see an explosion of legacies even if values will plummet down the chimney. But if we do not do it now, the opportunity will be lost forever

The influences surrounding Will-writing and legacy giving are growing by the moment. I mention Wills and legacies because you need a “call to action” for both

So I thought we ought to try a legacy SWOT which is only focused on current issues. Many strengths are also opportunities and many weaknesses are also threats but I have not duplicated them.


  • Ageing population
  • Increased awareness of legacy giving
  • Older generations are making Wills more frequently
  • Methods of making a Will are increasing ease of action
  • More charities developing better, and more frequent, legacy communications
  • ROI


  • Getting round to doing it
  • Communications departments not giving legacy teams enough space
  • Lack of internal buy-in
  • Trustees who do not invest in legacy fundraising
  • Many campaigns are similar or boring


  • Integrating the opportunity of legacy giving in all communications
  • Volunteer promotion
  • Increasing use of social media by older generations but also…
  • Their inherent love of printed newsletters.
  • Increasing awareness of an affordable gift
  • Increasing propensity to give to “new” legacy causes (arts education and local charities)


  • Increasing number of contested Will
  • Increasing “unrest” with professional executors with some charities “pestering” them
  • Lack of trust and confidence in some parts of the charity sector
  • Increasing cynicism of admin/fundraising costs
  • Care costs
  • University fees for grandchildren
  • Support of fragmented families (children and grandchildren and property ladder)
  • Uncertainty of future financial needs
  • Giving away money before death to avoid IHT

I could go on for pages and pages. But this is not the time or place.

I would like to focus on some of the most urgent.

Lack of trust and confidence both with prospects and professional executors

I hope by now all of you have a legacy charter or legacy promises which reassure everyone that you are not going to chase/pester them, you recognise that they can change their mind about the gift and you will use it wisely.

BUT how many of you send these to: enquirers and in the first communication with professional executors? In my view there should be two sets of promises which each focus on key issues relevant to the audience.  Be honest, be transparent and keep them happy.

This is not your last Will

Everyone who writes a Will (or even those at the start of their testamentary journey) think the Will they are preparing is their LAST will – in other words it is their final wishes. This of course is a load of rubbish and also one of the biggest problems facing us.

Any, or even every, Will is really a temporary document which will suffice for the moment. But the finality of the document forces people to think of deciding about every possible minute detail. This triggers “no action”.

It can be put off for another day (like dieting). After all, most of the seemingly difficult decisions are ones which involve family members and their future circumstances (let alone our own) are changing year on year.

In reality every Will can be a simple one with more specific issues or concerns drafted in a Letter of Wishes (if executors and family members can be trusted) or in a new Will at little cost.

Our lives are made up of temporary or fleeting moments of change. So is our Will. So fleeting messages which build trust and confidence are a crucial part of the mix especially those statistics which prove how well you spend donors’ money and the resulting outcomes

In a recent focus group for a university, an alumnus left the focus group and came back five minutes later. In that time he had phoned his solicitor and changed his Will in favour of the University – brilliant!

Legacy giving is filled with oodles of joy – which is why I focus on joy in all in-house and training seminars.

Will making should be filled with joy but the Will confronts the issue of death and dying – especially in hospices, hospitals and other care centres and charities supporting those experiencing life limiting conditions – which is why my focus groups are handled in a more tranquil low key way than training.

But they are still upbeat. One unresolved issue for current focus groups is HOW older people would prefer to be offered help with a Will: online, at home or a local solicitor. In these days of older generations being grumpy about being pestered we must take care not to be seen to be coercing them. But 1 in 3 of your stakeholders will “do it” if you do it nicely.

And finally if you want to know more you can read my first book on legacy fundraising recently published by Smee & Ford.

My brain is now clearer, but life is so busy and the challenges fascinating. So shall I: have a glass of wine, go to sleep or dance across my rooftop?

Richard Radcliffe FinstF Cert, founder of Radcliffe Consulting which just helps you get more legacies