Alzheimer’s Society’s Amanda Pearson gives her best hints on how to run a successful legacy event
Legacy events are fantastic opportunities to tell potential donors about your charity and let them know how they can help. Alzheimer’s Society holds more than 20 legacy events each year. Here are our six tips on how to make your legacy event a success.
Invite the right people
We typically invite donors who have supported us for around three years and shown loyalty to our cause, with an average gift of £50 per year. We wouldn’t expect people to drive for more than 45 minutes to attend, so inviting donors who live within a 30-mile radius of the venue is a good way to guarantee people will come.
We make sure the invite letter clearly outlines the reason they are being invited and what they can expect from the day. It helps to inform people beforehand that we would like to say thank you for their support, tell them about the work we are doing and explain how a gift in their will is a great way to ensure Alzheimer’s Society can go on supporting people with dementia.
Choose an appropriate venue
The right venue depends on the type of charity you are. It’s important to carefully consider where to hold an event. If possible, it’s great if your venue is linked to the cause of your charity. If you’re a research charity, for example, why not invite supporters to visit your research or training facilities? People are likely to feel motivated to give if they’ve met people who are making the difference to achieve your charity’s goal.
To ensure a good attendance, we make sure we choose an appealing venue that will get supporters attention and interest. This may be a guided tour of an historic house, free entry to the garden or something exclusive like access to a property that’s not generally open to the public. This, along with an invitation to bring a friend, can encourage people to attend. Besides this, it must be DDA compliant, have car parking or good transport links, an appropriate meeting room, catering facilities and located in an area where you have a large number of supporters to invite. And it must be good value for money. It’s important your supporters see that the majority of money your charity spends goes towards charitable objectives.
Timing is everything
There are lots of differing views on when you should hold your events. Some think it’s best to avoid the dark and cold winter months; others think people are too busy to attend a summer event. At Alzheimer’s Society, we’re careful to hold a variety of events throughout the year: in March/April, June/July and October/November. We always hold morning events in winter as feedback showed us people weren’t accepting invitations to afternoon events due to the dark evenings.
Involve your colleagues
The success of our legacy events depend hugely on our colleagues in the operations directorate. They are well-placed to speak about our local services and show where legacy funds have made a real difference to people’s lives. They are also on hand to welcome guests. We make sure that they don’t talk about legacy giving but, instead, encourage them to chat over lunch about the charity, and talk about how dementia may have affected their lives.
On the day
Our events run for about an hour, which we find is the optimum time to keep someone’s attention. We usually find people arrive 30-45 early, so it’s important to be ready to welcome them.
Make sure your speakers are well briefed to tell a story, not just rattle off facts and figures. We also ask them not to use jargon or acronyms. It’s important to relate with your audience, not confuse them. One of our most successful presentations is a ‘Singing for the Brain’ demonstration. Music can be one of the last faculties a person with dementia still has and singing can unlock memories. Through an interactive demonstration, people who do not have dementia can get an understanding of how singing lifts your mood and the difference it makes.
Making the request
Strange as it may seem, on the day of the event, we do not ask people to leave Alzheimer’s Society a charitable gift in their will. We ask if they will go away and think about it. We say that we will telephone them with in the next week to ask what they thought about the event and that’s when we make the request. Finally, regardless of whether they are leaving a gift to us or not, we always ask if they are happy with the information and contact they receive from us, and whether they like to be more involved with the charity. By asking this question, we discovered more than 200 people who had an interest in volunteering for the charity last year.
Amanda Pearson, national legacy and recognition giving manager at Alzheimer’s Society