The legacy marketplace is currently worth around £2.5 billion and is expected to grow substantially over next 10 years. If your charity doesn’t already have a clear legacy strategy in place, it really needs one – fast.
Legacy fundraising must be integrated not only into the organisation’s overall fundraising strategy, but its entire culture. And what works for one charity isn’t necessarily going to work for another. Here are some basic steps you need to take when developing and implementing your strategy:
1. Your audience
Understanding your audience will allow you to tailor your messages, communications and events around their needs and where they are in their own legacy life cycle stage. To do this, you need to understand data and identify who these people are to allow you to segment supporters into distinct groups.
Everyone is different and will have their own unique connections with your charity and reasons for supporting you. Understanding more about this connection will allow you to communicate more effectively with this person. Done successfully, segmentation will help to identify your key legacy prospects and allow you to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.
2. your proposition
Knowing your audience will allow you to better focus on your proposition. A tip to get you started – focus on the why. Why should someone leave a gift in their Will to your charity? A few essentials to get you started are:
- Be passionate about the cause
- Be specific and impactful
- Be clear and make it achievable
- Stand out and show how what you do is unique
- Make it personal and all about the supporter
- Make it emotive
Just as importantly, don’t forget to make that ask! Passionately. A major barrier to legacy giving is often self-inflicted – we either don’t ask or don’t ask clearly. Include some social norming too and you will instantly uplift response. After all, humans are curious creatures and tend to follow the herd.
3. Your messaging
Leaving a legacy is a considered action and follows a legacy life cycle which can be illustrated using Prochaska and DiClemente's (1983) Stages of Change Model. This model describes five stages that people go through on their way to behaviour change:
A supporter will generally have many touchpoints with your charity throughout their lifetime and most won’t be with your legacy team. Drip feeding a clear and consistent legacy message, in line with where that person is in their life cycle, will help to motivate them further through to action.
That doesn’t mean you should just keep asking until someone tells you they’ve done it (or most likely tell you where to go), but it should inform how you personalise your messaging and adopt a donor centric approach to legacy communications.
4. Integration and education
These two points work hand in hand – integrating your message across as many channels as possible is vital but you can’t do this effectively without educating your internal stakeholders on the role they play.
At Marie Curie we developed a training programme for Community Fundraisers, designed to ensure they could speak confidently and clearly about gifts in Wills. The half-day course, developed after intensive scoping, concentrated on four key areas:
What are gifts in Wills – definition, purpose and importance
When to promote gifts in Wills – supporter journeys, opportunities and matching opportunities with conversations
How to promote gifts in Wills – facts, stats and resources available
Action planning – practising how and when to implement plans
Success was measured in two ways: participant feedback and subsequent legacy conversations facilitated by fundraisers.
Results were staggering – 119 fundraisers attended the programme which received an average feedback rating of 95%. And the number of legacy conversations increased from a baseline of 49% to 68% just a month after the training. In the months following, this increased further as we continued to introduce further support materials and tools.
5. Your team
To get the most from your strategy it’s important to set up a team around the areas of priority for you. A central team can work on your mailings and telemarketing, while a regional team can help support and complement this activity with a face-to-face approach. Organising events, meeting supporters and continuing to raise awareness internally.
If you don’t initially have the budget for a team, you’ll need to work closely with other internal teams to ensure messaging is getting out there to the right people. Work with your fundraising teams to ensure they’re clear about the conversations they need to have – training is essential here and is well worth the effort. But keep fighting for that budget. Given the right case for support there’s really no reason why legacies shouldn’t be an area of significant investment.
There are of course other areas to consider. Measure and evaluate your campaigns, events and other activities. Keep testing. And ensure you have an effective stewardship plan in place too. The journey doesn’t end at action – you’ll need to keep supporters engaged and connected to the cause throughout their life.
So, get started. It’s not difficult and your charity has a lot to gain. Remember, your supporters will expect to be asked.
Nigel Gorvett, Head of Legacies, Marie Curie
Nigel will be speaking on the future challenges associated with legacy fundraising and how organisations can rethink their strategy at this year's Legacy Strategy Summit on 14 June, London. To find out more or to book your place, visit https://legacystrategysummit.com/