Coronavirus: practical tips for talking gifts in Wills

Ben Brill By Ben Brill

It’s a sensitive time.

And if you’re talking legacies in the midst of global pandemic, it’s a real walking on egg-shells moment.

On the one hand, there’s clearly a lot of demand: solicitors have been reporting that demand for Wills has increased dramatically.

But on the other, there’s that nagging question: is it really appropriate for charities to be promoting the benefits of gifts in Wills in the midst of a crisis like this?

It’s a question we’ve been asked a lot over the past few weeks.

And while it doesn’t boil down to a straight yes/no answer, there are some simple tips you can follow to keep the conversation going with your supporters during these strange, unsettling times.

Press pause on cold acquisition

The brands that are responding best to this crisis are the ones who are reaching out, showing that they really do care – and adapting their approaches to be genuinely supportive in trying times.

So be sensitive to where your audience’s heads are at.

Making or updating their Will might well be at the front of their mind. But the primary motivation probably won’t be to make sure they’re leaving a gift to their favourite charity.

Focus instead on ways that you can make their experience easier. Make sure free Will offers are clearly signposted on your website, and consider ways that you can offer person-to-person support and advice – from online Q&As to one-to-one chats, or even virtual legacy events.

And remember: the goodwill that you earn now will stand you in good stead for the future.

Stewardship is still key – but keep it human

When you’re not quite sure what to say, it can seem easier to say nothing.

But it’s important that you keep your connection with supporters over the coming months.

In the short term, it’s worth scaling back on impact stories (and when you do share them, concentrating on the most positive and uplifting).

Focus instead on strengthening your personal relationships and offering reassurance. Think emails, letters or postcards from trusted voices, checking in, and making sure supporters feel they can get in touch if they have any questions or concerns.

At times like this, it’s important to let people know that you’re there for them – and what support you can offer.

Don’t underestimate the power of honesty, either. It’s been widely reported that these are difficult times for many charities – so be open about what you’re doing during these strange times. Are you facing a shortfall? If so, how are you handling it?

When everything else is uncertain, a simple, clear message can be reassuring.

Honesty is the only policy

A gentler approach is key right now. But it’s important to keep the conversation going.

Remember, just a few years ago, most charities were nervous about raising the subject of gifts in Wills at all.

We’ve come a long way since then – and along the way, we’ve learnt that, if you approach the topic in the right way, people are open to talking about sensitive subjects.

The openness and honesty that brought us this far will be key to the next step of the journey as well.

Ben Brill

Ben Brill

Creative Director

Ben came to us from Save the Children, where he was the creative powerhouse behind some of their best-known campaigns. Our story and strategy-led work brought him agency side, and he’s consistently wowed clients with impressive conceptual work. Read more about Ben on our blog.