How can legacies be promoted across charities?

How can legacies be promoted across charities?

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How can we ensure that legacy income is owned, promoted, and treasured across our charities and is not just the preserve of legacy teams?


Jonathan Jacques, head of legacy development, Barnardos

To ensure everyone in your charity is comfortable talking to supporters about legacies, several key elements need to be in place.

First, the financial value of gifts in wills needs to be widely understood internally through awareness and training - making statements such as they're worth '£1 in every £X we receive from supporters' helpful.

Secondly, developing a clear and compelling proposition of what a gift left to your organisation can deliver will help other teams to 'sell' legacies.

Finally, you need a very visible legacy team so everyone is clear on who to signpost interest to, meaning teams don't feel inhibited by their lack of specialist legal knowledge. 


Danielle Tanner, legacy promotions function manager, Macmillan

Having an inspiring legacy team who develop great relationships across the organisation - beyond fundraising teams - is the first step to really engaging a charity in legacies.

Senior level buy-in and support of legacy promotions is extremely important, and can often be the final push you need to encourage colleagues across the organisation to get on board with legacy messages. Our senior management team really understand the importance of legacy promotions, and their attendance at legacy events can inspire other teams to get involved with legacy messages. 

Keep banging the drum - legacies should always be on the agenda, and you should keep sharing positive results, outcomes and examples of cross-team working do demonstrate how it can be done, and the benefits to teams as well as the impact on the cause.


Kate Lee, chief executive, Myton Hospice

The challenge for charities can be that staff and volunteers feel uncomfortable talking about death and dying. For hospices in particular, talking about legacies can feel a little predatory and a little too close to home.

To remedy this, I continually remind everyone that one in five of our patient's services are funded from the £1.2m we get in this way each year, and that not asking denies families and other supporters an opportunity to make an informed decision for their future - something we actively promote.

We're getting there, but it is slow work, and needs a constant 'drip drip' reminder. Unsurprisingly, those teams that have benefitted from a restricted legacy are converts to the power of asking, and they are great at championing the cause with colleagues.


Stephen George, freelance fundraising and management contributor to the not-for-profit sector

Legacies are a critical part of most charities income, but more importantly, they are a critical opportunity for every single donor or supporter.

Keeping legacies tucked away in a box through a lack of understanding is no excuse for any organisation. The key is to focus on getting the right culture and strategy in place so that legacies can flow. That means a mix of top down and bottom up: leadership and authority needs to be in place, to give not just permission but to stimulate and prioritise; meanwhile you also need to deliver adequate training and support, making it a KPI for everyone.

Create noise around legacies, building stories and experience, and through that, confidence. Learn to make legacies normal, and it will all follow.


Emma Rylance, direct marketing manager (legacies), British Red Cross

Charities aren't the only ones who benefit from charitable legacies. Legacy giving is a positive opportunity for staff and volunteers to offer supporters. It's the natural continuation of their connection to your cause, and very possibly their chance to make a more significant donation than they could afford in their lifetime. People decide to leave a legacy when they're very much alive and able to enjoy the knowledge that their gift will make a real difference. 

Using this to inspire the rest of the organisation, instead of the usual 'x per cent of income' legacy arguments, might just convince them that legacy giving is a win for everyone and turn it into something they're happy to get behind.


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