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14 essential tips to optimise your legacy marketing impact

For many charities, legacies are a staple source of funding. Subsequently, the ever-changing legacy market is always one to keep an eye on. In light of this, Smee and Ford’s most recent Legacy Trends report reveals 14 ways for charities to get the most out of your legacy marketing strategy…     

1. Get internal buy-in

Before you can roll out any legacy marketing campaign, you’ll need to get internal buy-in. Start by getting support at board level; explain to them the importance of gifts in Wills to your organisation. Be sure to include facts and figures about legacies (Smee & Ford’s Legacy Spotlight can provide statistics in support of legacy marketing, from charities similar to yours). This will help get your chief executive, trustees and other senior staff on board.

Once you’ve got senior level buy-in, you can then start to build a ‘legacy culture’ throughout your organisation. Appointing a ‘legacy champion’ among your trustees will help encourage everyone to get on board with legacy messages. Everyone in your organisation should understand how important gifts in Wills are in enabling you to carry out your work, and that they all have a part to play in helping promote this method of giving. Ensure your legacy team is visible and accessible, so that those without specialist knowledge are clear on who to signpost interest to.

2. Determine your ‘typical’ legator

Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or an intricate database, you should have some system of CRM in place to help you manage and maximise all your fundraising relationships – including legacy prospects. Starting with your own legacy data, work out the typical profile of people who have left your charity a gift in their Will over the last 12 months using some of the criteria outlined in this paper.

Are they primarily male or female, or is it an even split? How old are individuals when they leave a gift to your charity? Where do they live? How long is it between them writing their Will and you receiving the legacy? Next, look at your financial data. What are your average values across the different types of legacies? What is the average over two/five/10 years? This information will help you with legacy forecasting, as well as legator profiling.

3. Identify your legacy prospects

Once you have defined your ‘typical’ legator, use this data to segment your donor database to identify those supporters who fit the profile. If someone isn’t currently a regular giver, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about your cause. Don’t discount someone just because they haven’t given to your charity in the last six months.

It may be that that they have stopped giving because of their immediate financial circumstances and might respond well if offered a different proposition—one that does not involve such an immediate financial commitment such as leaving a gift to your charity in their Will.

4. Get clued up

Make sure your legacy marketers are armed with the knowledge to answer any questions your prospects might have. Donors will want to know how their money will be spent and what the practicalities surrounding leaving a legacy are (e.g. how they can make or amend their Will, what types of gift they can bestow, what tax breaks are available).

5. Keep your data clean

Ensure you have systems in place that will capture and record the correct information from your legacy notifications. It is important to record your supporter’s details correctly and update your data regularly. Out-of-date or inaccurate data generates waste, expense and sometimes even upset (for example, if you misspell a supporter’s name, get their address wrong, or send them communications when they have asked to no longer receive them).

It often takes many years for people to get around to making or changing a Will, so it’s important to keep track of the legacy marketing status of your supporters. Are they an ‘enquirer’ (having requested information on how to leave a legacy), an ‘intender’ (having stated an intention to include your charity in their Will) or a ‘pledger’ (having already included your charity in their Will)?

For 9 more essential tips on how to optimise your legacy marketing impact to the max, click here to download the free 2019 Legacy Trends report.

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