Why you should be investing in legacies this year

Joe Nicholson By Joe Nicholson

In a rough year for the charity sector, legacy fundraising remained stable – and interest in leaving a legacy was higher than ever. So if you’re not investing properly in gifts in Wills, it’s time to start.

What a year we’ve just had. The figures make for grim reading: charities across the board lost huge chunks of their income, with horrible consequences for their projects. Nor are we out of the woods, with some predicting that household giving could plummet by 25% this financial year.

Despite this grim picture, one income stream remained a stable for many charities: legacies.

And although many of us were nervous about marketing gifts in Wills during the pandemic, the statistics proved us wrong. March and April 2020 were boom months for making Wills, with online Will-writing service Farewill seeing an increase in demand of nearly 300%. People wanted to get their affairs in order, and charities benefitted.

But when times are tough, legacy marketing – with its elusive ROIs and delayed income – can be the first to be cut. Even though, over the long term, legacies are far less vulnerable to shocks in our society.

Simply put, legacy income secures your charity’s future. Supporters get that, too. So as you plan for 2021-2022, here’s how to get the most out of your legacy marketing:

1 – Find your proposition

Why should somebody leave a gift in their Will to your charity? Our experience shows us that when you have a clear, inspiring story to give potential pledgers, your campaigns do better – take a look at our legacy proposition for Shelter, for example, which delivered a 50:1 ROI.

Leaving a gift in a Will can be profoundly meaningful – a way for supporters to imagine their impact on the world, long into the future. With a strong proposition, you can show them that.

2 – Evaluate your marketing strategy

Now more than ever, the old mailers-and-events model of legacy fundraising is out of date.

What channels are you not taking advantage of? Warm DM can inspire your strongest supporters to leave a gift (and we’d advise small charities to start here), but you need broadcast for reach.

And we don’t just mean DRTV – the past years have seen the rise of the contemplation ad, like the one we did for the British Red Cross, which acknowledge that deciding to leave a legacy gift is not immediate.

Above the line gives you reach – and digital continues the journey. Creative digital marketing for legacies has boomed this year, not least because of rising appetites for online Will Writing.

3 – Sort out your journeys

What takes your audiences from thinking about leaving a legacy gift to the act of pledging? Are you struggling to know who has left a gift? What happens after a pledge is made?

If you don’t have all the answers to those questions, you need a legacy strategy. Detailed, insight-led mapping of your journeys shows you where you can communicate better with your prospects – and better keep your pledgers inspired. That’s what we did for The British Heart Foundation.

4 – Empower your teams

Legacy pledgers don’t exist in a vacuum. The likelihood is, they engage with your charity in many ways – which means all teams have a role to play in promoting gifts in Wills.

That means your internal audience is crucial. We’ve found that compelling, year-round internal advocacy supports your legacy marketing. By dispelling myths and helping your colleagues to overcome their fears around talking legacies, you can transform their interactions with supporters into legacy conversations – and the pledges will follow.

There’s so more to legacies than we can fit on one blog! We’ve had the privilege of helping many of the UK’s leading charities revolutionise their legacy fundraising – and we’d love to do the same for yours. If you’d like to talk more, then get in touch.

Joe Nicholson

Joe Nicholson

Head of Copy

Joe’s a big thinker who understands the power of words. As Head of Copy, he combines consistent creative magic with cross-channel expertise and rock-solid strategic thinking. Joe’s an experienced fundraiser, who also serves as a Trustee for homelessness charity, Housing Justice – you can read more about him here