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The secret to creating supporter-centric legacy comms

Ben Brill By Ben Brill

The secret to creating supporter-centric legacy comms

We were delighted to be asked by the amazing Fundraising Everywhere to share some of our legacies expertise with their members at a lunchtime workshop last month.

One of the themes that kept on coming up was putting your supporter at the heart of the experience. So we thought we’d share our three-step formula for supporter-centric comms – ideal for any charity fundraiser who’s looking to step their gifts in Wills programme up a gear.

Meet your supporter where they’re at 

Making a Will is an inherently reflective process – you’re thinking about what was important to you in life, the people who shaped you, and the world you want to leave behind after you’re gone.

Good legacy storytelling creates a powerful connection by tapping into that reflective mindset – and the Symbol campaign we developed for the British Red Cross is a great example of how to do this.

Inspired by a real-life story, it shows a pledger recalling how the first time she heard the name ‘British Red Cross’ she was sitting on their mum’s knee, watching the Aberfan disaster unfold on the news.

In the midst of all this darkness, the British Red Cross volunteers were like a symbol of kindness – a thought that had stayed with her throughout her life, and a thought that helped inspire an entire campaign.

When you’re creating your legacy story, think about how you can tap into formative experiences like this. By doing so, you can create a deeper connection with your supporters.

Present a compelling challenge

Showing need is one of the keys to any good fundraising. But the exciting thing about applying this principle to gifts in Wills is that you’ve got a licence to thing big.

If your organisational goal is to find a cure for a disease, or to overcome a significant social problem like homelessness, then put that vision front and centre.

Or, if you’re an organisation that will always be needed – part of the glue that holds our society together – talk about how a gift will help make sure that you’re always around. That idea of permanence can be really powerful.

When we were speaking to Shelter supporters about their motivations for pledging, it was clear that they understood the severity of the housing emergency, but realised that small change – a few quid here or there – wasn’t going to change anything. 

The Give People Change proposition we developed with Shelter is upfront about the scale of the problem – but frames gifts in Wills as the best way of bringing about the kind of seismic change that’s needed.

Give the supporter a clear role to play in the solution

On one level, this is simple: once you’ve shown the supporter the problem, explain how their gift will help solve it. 

But, again, gifts in Wills give you a chance to connect on an even deeper level.

Symbolic immortality’s a phrase that comes up a lot with legacy giving. It’s a complex idea, but at its heart, it’s about saying to the supporter: by leaving a gift in your Will, a part of you – and the things that matter to you – will live on.

You’re giving the supporter a stake in the future. You’re saying – as we did in one of our recent campaigns for the RNLI – ‘when the rescue boat launches and the person is pulled from the sea, you’ll be there. You’ll be a part of that.’ 

That’s a message that you should be repeating, whatever the nature of your cause.

One last thing…

This formula’s tried and tested. But there’s one thing missing from the equation: your supporters themselves. 

If you really want to get under the skin of your supporters, look for every opportunity to speak to them. Learn what actually motivates and moves them. Find out about the barriers to pledging. And build your experience around what they tell you. 

We’ve spoken to hundreds of legacy pledgers over the past few years – if you’d like to chat about how we can help, or want to know more about cost-effective ways of doing it yourselves, please get in touch.

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.