Why be a legacy fundraiser?

18 February 2015

I can never remember anybody at school advising the careers officer that they wanted to be a legacy fundraiser. I doubt we understood what it meant, let alone the importance or value in this form of fundraising. Perhaps it’s not ‘sexy’ enough.

I’d had some pretty wild teenage years, much to the annoyance and concern of my parents. So when I decided to study law with the Institute of Legal Executives, they were pleased and relieved. I soon got a job as a Will writer and Estate Administrator utilising these studies, and marketed the services as well.

Let’s be honest, I was one of those annoying people who approached people in shopping malls offering them a cheap will. I feel comfortable making that comment without the fear of libel, as the firm I worked for went into liquidation in the recession.

This is where I first became interested in charity work as I was writing wills, some of which included charitable gifts. Whilst I was yet to understand the importance of legacy income to charities, I did understand that for many of my clients it was seen as either a way of giving something back and supporting a cause they loved, or a way of ensuring that family members didn’t inherit where relations were strained.

In February 2004, at the age of 21, my life changed forever. My father had gone into town to do some shopping, and had fallen to the ground suffering a massive heart attack. The paramedics tried to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was 57.

My mother was devastated, as were me and my three brothers. Time was spent consoling my mum, and adapting, as you have to, to a life without someone you love. You start to consider your own life, and how precious it is. We all take life for granted sometimes and act as though we are here forever.

My father’s sudden death was a stark reminder on how precious life is, and how quickly it could be taken away. With this in mind I got out of the corporate world, and got a position with Age UK promoting amongst other products, pre-paid Funeral Plans.

This was a further insight into seeing how members of the public reacted to thinking about end of life. Some would joke, some would run a mile, but many saw that the product was a way of planning for the future and protecting loved ones.

A career in legacies followed; it seemed a natural way to utilise both my marketing and legal experience, and made me feel that I was able to do something rewarding that my father would have been proud of. I am the Legacy and In-memory Manager at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, where I am able to promote to our supporters the importance of gifts in wills and how they will allow us to continue the fight to beat cystic fibrosis for good.

I am pleased to also now sit on the Council for Remember A Charity – giving me input into ensuring legacy giving becomes a social norm. Now, I wake up and look forward to going to work, thanking my father for the inspiration of doing a job I love and knowing that good causes will benefit long into future from the work being conducted now.

Find out more about the Cystic Fibrosis Trust here.

Michael Clark, legacy and in-memory manager at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust