British Heart Foundation: the perks of a supporter-centric legacy marketing strategy

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British Heart Foundation: the perks of a supporter-centric legacy marketing strategy

British Heart Foundation: the perks of a supporter-centric legacy marketing strategy

Supporter centricity is at the top of many charities’ wish lists; we want to get closer to supporters, demonstrate personal impact and tell compelling stories…

At present, there is huge growth potential in the legacy market for charities who are being truly supporter centric.

Why is supporter centricity so important?

Because until we see the people who are remembering our charities with a gift in their Wills, understand the humans behind the figures that we report on, and appreciate what makes people take this generous, amazing step to pledge income to future work, we are not honouring and celebrating our donors as we should.

What is your favourite donor story? Who has moved you to tears when they shared what they hope their future gift will achieve? Who has inspired you with the reasons behind their pledge? In answering these questions we understand motivations, and can become truly supporter centric. It seems simple, but a relationship fundraising approach to legacy marketing really is one of the best things you can do to take your legacy strategy to the next level.

What is the reward if we get the legacy marketing right?

Put yourself in the shoes of a satisfied legacy supporter. Having a single point of entry to the charity and having all of your giving and connections recognised. Being thanked in the right way at the right time for sharing your legacy pledge. Being given inside track experiences because you are regarded as a VIP who has made the ultimate gift, secured with a pledge in your Will. Having a dialogue with the charity that celebrates you as an individual and gets you closer to the work in a way that suits you. And knowing that you are playing a key role in the future goals of the charity. In our case at British Heart Foundation, every single pledger who goes on to leave us a gift in their Will has played a role in powering our lifesaving research. Without the support of those who have left us these gifts in the past we may not have funded research into some amazing breakthroughs for heart and circulatory conditions.

Taking the time to talk to our supporters, understand why they leave gifts, what they hope these will achieve, what experience they would like to feel being a legacy supporter and how we can thank them for a gift they have pledged without needing to know its ultimate value –well, you can’t really get more supporter centric than that.

Getting up close and personal

I ran a legacy marketing workshop last year and started with my usual question of asking for hands up for everyone who had made a Will. Mine was the only hand that went up. If we aren’t, as legacy marketers, taking the time to understand what it feels like to go through the Will making process then how can we talk authentically to our donors about the need to have an up to date will that, if possible, contains a gift to a favourite charity? Yes, leaving a legacy is more than just making a Will, but we need to recognise the practicalities that are a part of the entire journey and ensure we get as close as possible to the experience our donors are having.

Putting donors at the heart of all of our decisions for the journeys we take them on, building authentic relationships with our donors and taking the time to understand the experiences they have and need offer the opportunity to future proof our legacy strategies. In the face of tougher times for charities, putting donors first, finding inspiration in our pledgers and building regular face to face interactions into our journeys where we can will help to elevate our legacy marketing and bring supporters closer to the work they will be powering in the future.

Fiona Riley, Head of Legacy Marketing, British Heart Foundation

Fiona will be chairing this year's Legacy Strategy Summit on 13 June 2019, London. To find out more or to book your place, visit    

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