Our annual Legacy Strategy Summit looked very different this year. Usually held in London during the summer, this was the first year we took it completely online and were blown away by the response! With clearly a lot to discuss this year, the event was very much welcomed by the legacy fundraising community – with over 500 delegates from across the globe signing up for the full day online event. The one day conference was made up of 10 live and six on demand sessions. There was a lot to cover – so we’ve pulled together a quick summary of key takeaways from the Summit.
Legacy data and trends session
The day began with an in-depth look at the data and trends in legacy giving, with insights and research from Smee & Ford, Radcliffe Consulting and Farewill. This session also considered the external factors shaping people’s legacy planning, and how online wills have taken centre stage during the spring 2020 lockdown.
Mark Pincher, Smee & Ford, showed that total legacy income for the top 3,000 charities rose significantly from £0.7bn in the late 90s to £2.7bn now. He said “the potential for legacy giving is very positive, and on an upward trend. It’s a great time for legacy fundraising.”
Richard Radcliffe, Radcliffe Consulting: “I am more interested in legacies than I have been for the past 32 years, so.... get going with your campaign - the potential is huge!”
Natasha Pawade, Farewill: “Since the spring lockdown, most charities have had to reposition their legacy message – continue regular communication with your supporters - it is vital at this time.”
Building a legacy strategy
We asked representatives from several charities to reveal how they have established and strengthened legacy fundraising strategies within their organisation – and how they had got their plans up and running, even with very modest budgets.
Kerry McMenamin, Target Ovarian Cancer: “Consider who you need to have on board your legacy love boat – which senior staff do you need to be engaged with your legacy fundraising strategy?”
Matt Smith, London Air Ambulance: “Put the supporter into your legacy message, make them part of the story – so they feel involved from the very start of the conversation.”
Sheila Fergusson, Samaritans: “Try to convey relatable experiences to your supporters – so they feel in touch with the core messages of your campaign.”
Growing a legacy strategy
We looked at how virtual events have suddenly come into their own, with a large percentage of charities moving into online events for the first time. With many legacy pledgers and supporters in the older age groups, we discussed how virtual events can reach these audiences when face to face meetings are not possible.
Clare Sweeney, St Anne’s Hospice: “We’re at a microwave moment – that a crisis has created an opportunity – and virtual events have provided an opportunity keep our audiences warm. Move with times – be like Netflix, not like Blockbuster!”
In this new stream for LSS, we spoke with legacy professionals from The Netherlands, the USA, and Canada, and compared their approaches to legacy fundraising with the methods in the UK.
We assembled a panel of academic organisations from the UK and USA to look at how charities can make the most of an international database of alumni supporters. Dee Brecker and Viet-Anh Hua from the London School of Economics and Carolyn Jones, from Liverpool University, revealed how UK institutions were approaching their alumni by using anecdotes and storytelling – giving an insight into how previous legacies had helped their students.
Lynn Malzone Ieradi, Director of Gift Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, revealed how their multi-million-dollar legacy strategy targeted alumni from the moment they leave academia – with students pledging legacies from their early 20s. The research by Dr Russell James of Texas Tech looked at the affects of giving on the personality of donors – with donors feeling more inclined to leave additional donations once they had settled their own legacy plans.
How to be big in legacy fundraising
This session featured a comparison of major cancer research charities – Cancer Research UK’s Lee Grant, Senior Legacy Partnership Manager, Helen Smith, Senior Legacy Engagement Manager, and Dutch Cancer Foundation’s Camille Boyer, Product Manager – looked at their similar approaches to filling the fundraising shortfall caused by the crisis of 2020, as well as their different approaches to stewardship.
Finally, Rob Cope of Remember a Charity moderated a session with Fraser Green of Goodworks and Laurie Fox of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), to see how the two countries were promoting legacy giving in their location.
What’s your charity’s “lockdown legacy”? Staying relevant to old and new donors
Sanita Guddu, Legacy and In Memory Fundraising Manager at the Royal Voluntary Service, and Tara Bean, Head of Supporter Engagement at St Gemma’s Hospice, spoke on how their charities were going the extra mile since the first lockdown and had very much faced the frontline of the crisis over the last 9 months. The Royal Voluntary Service had managed 250,000 volunteers and launched a Virtual Village Hall service (see our article on this). St Gemma’s Hospice was finding that their remembrance services could be accessed from home, as a shared experience between the relatives of those that had died.
“Where before we had lunch clubs and social clubs, we now have the Virtual Village Hall were you can sign up for yoga or gardening, some even with celebrity presenters - all live – it’s been great that we can be so many more things to many, many more people” said Sanita Guddu.
Staying positive – towards a pot of gold the end of the rainbow
In the final panel session, speakers from the Royal Opera House, Awards for Young Musicians and the V&A spoke of how the cultural sector had been dealing with Covid-19 and the severe social restrictions that had separated them from their audiences, visitors and donors.
The panellists reflected on how culture, music and the arts is an intrinsic part of their donor’s lives, with many of their legacy pledgers having a 60 or 70 year-long connection to their chosen charity. They welcomed the technological advances in legacy fundraising during the last year – and reported on how successful virtual events and long-distance comms with their donors had been over the past year.
We were delighted with the event, the audience that stayed with us to the very last panel session, and the high level of interaction from the audience through polls, Q&A and questions sent in before the summit. A big thank you to all our fantastic speakers and delegates who came together for this very interactive, informative and packed day. Let’s hope we can meet again in person next year for #LSS21!
In the meantime, we hope your wider legacy admin teams can join us online on the 3rd December for the Excellence in Legacy Administration conference. This is a must attend event for anyone who works in legacy admin - have a look at the agenda and our speaker line up for 2020. We'll be looking at forecasting legacy income during Covid-19, best practise for modernising legacy administration, how to overcome legacy management challenges for 2021 and much more!