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Unicef: the future is digital for legacy fundraising

This summer Smee & Ford reported that the UK legacy market is worth between an estimated £2.8 billion and £2.9 billion – the largest ever reported. The general long-term trend is that charitable estates are increasing, with just over 6% of the population leaving a legacy. With more people leaving a gift in their Will, how do our legacy fundraising strategies need to adapt to reach a new audience – the Baby Boomers?

The Baby Boomer audience holds more than half of the UK’s £11 trillion wealth and are a segment of society entering their 70s as the richest and healthiest generation that has ever lived. Unicef’s aim is to engage and inspire this audience to consider a legacy and leave the world a better place for children. In 2017 alone, over 23,500 people were inspired to become legacy handraisers and start their legacy journey with Unicef UK after interacting with our nostalgia campaign online.

As we know, legacy fundraising, more than any other fundraising income stream, relies heavily on the principles of relationship marketing. It is essential that we connect with the audience, generate meaningful conversations, build trust and inspire people through examples of our work to leave a gift in their Will, after friends and family.

Traditionally, legacy fundraising has been delivered offline. Mail packs, telephone, print and events have been staple components in the legacy plan to raise awareness and create legacy interest. Using these channels is expensive so understandably the content has needed to be direct and trigger a hard response to qualify the investment and measure return. But now we can have conversations with our audience online.

Baby Boomers are online

Older Baby Boomers aged 65-74 are increasingly connected, with four in 10 (39%) using a smartphone, up 11% in a year. Record numbers of older people are embracing smart and social technology, with a quarter of over 75s using tablet computers, and half of online Baby Boomers taking to social media. In fact, Facebook users aged 54 and over have grown – with those over 65 the fastest growing Facebook user group – while growth for younger age groups has declined.

Given this growth, it’s surprising that 45% of charities still don’t have a digital strategy. Yet, things are changing, and a growing number of charities are using digital channels to promote legacy giving and generate engagement with an online audience.

Digital channels are perfect for legacy fundraising

Using digital channels means you can extend the legacy conversation over a series of interactions, as opposed to putting pressure on the ‘one moment’ with your mail pack or TM activity. This approach is a better reflection of the long-term decision-making process our supporters enter into when considering a gift in their Will to charity. As we all know, legacies aren’t created on impulse, so let’s ensure our fundraising strategies reflect this.

Here are top five reasons why if you’re not already utilising digital channels for legacy fundraising, you should be:

  1. Cost efficient: investment in social media is scalable and can drive results with all budgets. It can also be used to uplift offline activity and increase brand awareness.
  2. The opportunity to deliver personalised content has never been greater. You can instantly generate supporter engagement and gather user-generated content.
  3. You can match an audience with your charitable mission, reaching a group of people with a higher propensity to engage.
  4. Instant test and learn – you are able to instantaneously optimise, pause and adjust to improve your results. You can generate insight into the behaviours of your audience and serve them with content that resonates the most.
  5. Digital can be used for both acquisition, conversion and retention stages of the legacy journey.

While offline channels still have a place in the legacy fundraising strategy and supporter journey, digital channels are providing a cost efficient and highly effective way to engage prospects and supporters – and facilitate legacy conversations that will drive long-term income.

Clair Lucy, Head of Gifts in Wills, Unicef UK

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