Why aren’t universities tapping into the potential of legacy fundraising?

Ellie Adamo By Ellie Adamo

Universities are having to get smarter about future-proofing their financing.

A changing political climate means purse-strings are being tightened, and finding new, sustainable ways of fundraising has never been more important.

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.

They’re missing a trick – to tap into the huge warmth people have for the places where their lives and careers took shape, and to follow the lead of a sector that’s just starting to unlock the huge potential of legacy fundraising.

Getting ahead of the curve

Over the past five years, legacy marketing has been one of the charity success stories. It’s gone from being a bit of a sensitive subject, to a fundraising cornerstone.

At Consider, we’re proud to have been an important part of that journey. Working with organisations like the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross and Save the Children, we’ve created game-changing campaigns that have raised millions – and transformed lives.

Here are five tips that could help you do the same:

1. Tell great stories

Good storytelling creates connections – and changes minds.

Our work for Save the Children makes gifts in wills personal – by focusing on the stories of the children whose lives were being changed thanks to the charity’s work.

And using real stories will help your university build a case for support that really resonates.

Once you’ve got people responding with their heart, the rational arguments – like dispelling myths about university funding – start to get much easier.

2. Make things simple

We know that legacies can be a tricky subject – but we’ve learnt that, by removing barriers for supporters, you can make it seem a lot less daunting.

Take them through the process of making and updating wills step-by-step, making it easier for them to engage.

3. Take supporters on a journey

You don’t want to wait for leads to fall into your lap. So it’s vital you look at the bigger picture – and create long-term strategies to turn today’s students into tomorrow’s pledgers.

If that’s your plan, the basics – like direct mail – will only take you so far.

Our legacies propositions for the Stroke Association, Save the Children and Mind cover email, TV and social media, as well as more traditional channels.

They’ve delivered outstanding results – and they’ve turned heads in the charity sector. We’d love to take our insights and start applying them to your institution’s challenge.

4. Be upfront

Never forget that you’re fundraising – and trust the tried and tested.

So don’t shy away from asking for support throughout your comms, keep your calls to action clear and concise and make it as easy as possible for your audience to access useful information on making and updating their will.

5. Turn your colleagues into legacy champions

The more you’re talking about legacies internally, the more open you’ll be to the opportunities to fundraise.

That’s why we’ve been working with legacy heavyweights BHF to develop internal engagement programmes to make sure the whole organisation’s confident talking about legacies.

And while you might not yet have the resources to, we’ll be able to work with you to develop simple, effective communications that start important conversations.

If you’re looking to start a conversation about legacies at your institution, we’d love to talk about how we can help. Get in touch today.

Ellie Adamo

Ellie Adamo

Client Services Director

Ellie embodies that covetable combination of razor-sharp strategic skill and an instinctive ability to connect and engage with people. She cut her teeth in commercial advertising, but moved to fundraising agencies when she found charities ignited her passion in a way that banks never would. We’re delighted to benefit from her considerable experience, read more about Ellie here.