Protect your university's income: are you neglecting legacy fundraising?


In this third article about future proofing your university’s income, we take a closer look at fundraising, specifically legacy campaigns. While universities are generally fairly confident asking their alumni for donations while they are alive, more effort could be put into asking them for pledges in their wills.

While legacy pledges are unlikely to bring you huge windfalls now, it should be part of your long-term planning.

Asking people to part with their money can be tricky at the best of times but creating a legacy after death can be challenging without making your potential donors very aware of the fact that they will someday die. This can be an awkward conversation, but approaching it with positivity and a bit of humour helps.

When it comes to alumni, it is all about creating a tradition and playing the long game. If you can create a tradition for giving generously to your alma mater in your alumni’s will, you have created a stream of income that will continue to renew itself for decades to come. However, it does require you to actually ask people to pledge money. If you are unsure of how to approach the conversation, find inspiration outside the university sector.

Charities have been running legacy campaigns for decades. They have developed methods for broaching the topic and engaging with their pledgers. One of the keys is to keep it positive and be careful with the language you use. You can run effective legacy campaigns without focusing on death, wills and mortality.

Try instead to focus on life and the change a gift can make. This legacy campaign Consider Creative did for Save the Children brilliantly shows how moving the focus to the life of the child who will be helped can inspire people to make a difference.

How can you let potential pledgers know what a difference they can make for your university?

Pernille Norregaard is a communications and marketing expert with over 15 years’ experience. She specialises in communications management in purpose-driven organisations and Higher Education. Read more here.