5 simple tips for cost-effective legacy marketing

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5 simple tips for cost-effective legacy marketing

5 simple tips for cost-effective legacy marketing

Gifts in wills can make a huge difference to your income – and you don’t need a huge budget to promote them, as these five tips from Claire Routley show...


More and more organisations are waking up to the potential legacy giving. However, for some, especially smaller charities, it can feel like a distant dream: how can you find the resources to invest in longer-term legacy fundraising when raising the income you need to survive in the short term is already a struggle?


The good news is that much can be achieved in legacy fundraising without having to invest significant sums of money. Some of the key areas to consider are outlined below:


1. Integrate your legacy messages


The classic legacy fundraising strategy is the ‘drip-dip’ approach – sharing the legacy message little and often through a variety of channels and types of communication. This approach is a classic for a reason: it’s inexpensive and can be a great way to build up awareness of legacy giving amongst key audiences over time.


If you think creatively, there can be a way to integrate legacy messages almost anywhere, from tick-boxes on forms, to messages on the back of envelopes, to email footers, to brief mentions in a newsletter. Increasingly, charities are also training staff and volunteers to have legacy conversations with supporters  as they go about their daily roles.


2. Use PR effectively


There are a wealth of wonderful human interest stories lying behind legacy gifts. Often people have fascinating reasons for remembering our organisations, from vivid childhood memories, to a lifetime of interest in a cause, to an emotional story of being touched by its work. Speaking to donors, uncovering those stories and sensitively asking if you can share them with others can be a great way of promoting legacy giving to others, a finding which is backed up by academic research.


There are a whole range of other angles you might be able to take in sharing legacy stories, such as:


  • Unusual gifts you or others have received
  • Tapping into larger campaigns such as Remember a Charity Week  or WillAid month
  • Other seasonal events, e.g. making a will before you go on holiday, budget changes
  • Hints and tips around tax or will making
  • Publicising legacy-funded projects.


3. Make the most of social media


Linked to the points above, social media can be a particularly good channel to share the legacy message for those looking to communicate about legacies cost effectively, and indeed, social media is a great place to share supporter stories. And for those who think the older audience is not on social media, think again! One in four over 65s now uses social media and almost 20% of Facebook users are aged 55  

4. Optimise your systems


One of the most important things you can do when looking to make the most of your legacy fundraising is to make sure that you make the most of every single enquiry you receive. One of the keys to success in this is making sure that your systems work effectively; it’s perhaps not the most glamorous part of legacy marketing, but it’s one of the most vital:


An Australian study showed that a major bugbear for solicitors when dealing with charities was difficulty in finding the correct information to add to a will, or even calling a charity and not receiving a call back.


Meanwhile, a study by fundraising agency Bluefrog  showed that a third of the top legacy-earning charities didn’t reply when asked for legacy information.


To make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes in your organisation: test, test and test again. Try emailing to ask for more information on legacies; get a friend to call your organisation to ask about leaving a gift in their will; send a letter asking for a copy of your legacy brochure; even tweet a legacy question. How quick and easy is it to get a response? And how can you make it smoother and more efficient for your supporters?  


5. Maximise your current legacy income


As well as making the most of your enquiries, are you making the most of your current legacy income? According to ILM, good legacy managers can add 5-10% to a charity’s legacy income through, for example, making sure that assets are sold at maximum value or ensuring that the charity receives the correct value of tax reliefs.


Making sure that someone in the organisation knows what and when to ask during the course of an estate administration could potentially boost your income. (For those new to the subject, ILM offers beginners’ courses alongside formal qualifications.)


You don’t have to be a large charity to get involved in legacy fundraising; even the smallest charity can begin to promote legacy giving to its supporters by spotting the opportunities to weave legacies into their current activities and ensuring that they make the most of the opportunities presented to them.


Dr Claire Routley is a research fellow at the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy and founder of Legacy Fundraising Ltd

You can learn more about legacy fundraising at our upcoming conference 'Successful fundraising post-GDPR' on 6 December 2017, where industry experts will share their latest insights and advice. Click here to find out more and book your place today.  

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