Insight, not instinct, should lead your legacy fundraising programme, says Dan Carter, Global Legacy Director at International Fund for Animal Welfare, who shares his experience of how motivational research can help shape an effective legacy message...
Strategy. It’s a big, scary, important word that is used to cover all aspects of legacy fundraising. And although it is important to have a clear strategy to help give you direction for your legacy programme, it is just as important to have a clear proposition and messaging to help you, your legacy team and your organisation talk about legacies. As every charity is different, it is important to use insights to tailor your proposition and message. It is this that will encourage your supporters to take action.
Conduct motivational research
The first rule of any marketing/fundraising programme, product or service is to know your audience. This, in my experience, gives you the vital ingredients to help your message resonate with supporters.
In my previous role at Marie Curie, we undertook a legacy motivational research piece right from the outset, as our previous marketing programme was largely based upon instinct rather than insight. This research consisted of qualitative questions asked to supporters across a wide variety of supporter types; the learnings helped us to understand that trust was a key factor to leaving a legacy to Marie Curie and that trust was embodied in our nurses. Our nurses were seen as the key figure head, so we ensured that materials/creative messages were heavily centred around them and the trust that supporters and families we cared for had in them.
Talk more about legacies
Another key learning was that supporters could not hear the legacy message. Supporters told us we should not be shy in talking about the subject, and we took this on board to ensure we were more up front about the subject with supporters in direct mail and other marketing materials. This helped to improve positive response from mailings, improved event attendance and provided the legacy team and organisation with confidence to talk about the subject with a strong and assured voice.
Ask supporters questions
Insight does not have to be expensive either. Team members and volunteers can ask supporters in depth questions about their motivations for leaving a legacy – trust me, supporters will love being asked. Just by asking these questions, you are helping to strengthen their relationship with you, which is so vital. I would recommend where budget allows to seek support in crafting your questions as the right balance will ensure you gain that valuable insight.
Link insights to your vision
At IFAW, where I have been for 18 months, we have conducted motivational research to gain insight which has helped develop our proposition and messaging. Both are closely linked to the overall charity vision and the blend of the two is vital to show synergy. The messaging is linked to core pillars of our work. For example, ‘Safeguarding populations’ is core part of IFAW’s work and a legacy message we developed is ‘With a gift in your Will, you can ensure that our world will be filled with the paw prints of rare and beautiful animals for years to come’.
Engage staff and volunteers
Once you have your proposition and messaging, make sure you tell your staff and volunteers about them, especially what they mean and how you got to this point. At Marie Curie, we developed a short guide to talking about legacies, and at IFAW we are going to use videos, fact sheets and presentations to bring it to life for staff. The more you can engage staff with the insight and supporter thinking, the better chance they will have at creating relationships with them. The lessons will enable the messages they spread to be consistent with the messaging that is sent out through other legacy fundraising channels.
Tackle Will-writing barriers
Remember to ensure that your messaging tackles the barriers around Will writing, ensuring that you use supportive hand holding approaches to help your supporters take action straight away. Again, through the motivational research at IFAW, we uncovered that Will writing gave a sense of satisfaction and was a good feeling once complete. It is important to show that you take Will writing seriously and that you actively support your donors by providing reduced Will or free Will writing as a component of your strategy. At Marie Curie, we offered this service to staff as part of their benefits, which further reinforces the organisation’s commitment to Will writing.
My final advice is to make sure you develop your legacy message based upon insight, not just instinct. This will give you direction and help you to resist the urge to get stuck on your strategy.
Dan Carter is Global Legacy Director at International Fund for Animal Welfare and will be speaking at the Legacy Strategy Summit on 14 June 2018, where he will be discussing how charities can define their unique legacy proposition. Book your ticket here.