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There are many key ingredients to an effective fundraising strategy. One of which is legacy giving.

The charitable legacy market is worth over £3 billion a year. So, whatever the size of your charity or not-for-profit, we would strongly advise you consider making legacy or planned giving part of your fundraising strategy.

According to the Smee & Ford Legacy Trends Report 2022, 10,670 unique charitable organisations were mentioned in a will in 2021 - which is the highest recorded over the past decade. But how do you approach your supporters on such a sensitive subject of remembering your cause in their will?


Educate your audience

Legacy giving can take a number of forms. Whilst it’s most often made on someone’s death, it can also take the form of recurring donations that start whilst the donor is still living and continue after they’re deceased. Legacy gifts also don’t have to be in the form of money and can be material goods, property, stocks and more.

One of the biggest reasons your charity may not be receiving legacy donations currently is because your audience either isn’t aware that it’s an option or doesn’t know how to do it. Currently 6% of people leave a gift to charity in their will, but if this increased to 10% then it could generate another £1 billion for good causes each year.

You should educate your audience by letting them know what legacy donations are and how to make them to your charity. This information should be clearly stated on your website and also weaved into your email marketing, direct mail and social media channels. If you're a smaller charity, one way to shout louder about legacy giving is by becoming a member of Remember A Charity which works with 200 charities to help raise awareness and grow this kind of income.


Appeal to their emotions and be sensitive

Your donors are very unlikely to make a legacy gift if they don’t have a strong personal connection to your cause, so make sure that you know which members of your audience you should be speaking with. It’s a good idea to target those who already have this emotional connection, including those who already donate regularly.

In terms of your messaging, lead with emotion. Use emphatic language to explain how their gift will help the cause live on for future generations.


Make the donation process plain and simple

A significant barrier to your potential legacy donors could be the complex financial jargon that often goes with legacy giving. Instead, talk in a language that your audience will understand and don’t alienate them with unfamiliar terms.

You should also make the donation process as simple as possible. This involves including clear calls-to-action (CTAs) so that your donors know what they need to do and how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions.

Making a will is a task we all tend to delay until deemed absolutely necessary. So perhaps you could provide some impartial advice on how to go about it or follow the lead of charities like Cancer Research, The Stroke Association and Macmillan Cancer Support by offering a free will writing scheme as part of the National Free Wills Network - and make the suggestion of a legacy gift as part of the process.


Ensure financial planners are aware of your charity’s legacy giving options

As legacy gifts are typically prepared through a financial planner, it’s important to ensure that this particular audience segment is familiar with your process for legacy donations. Aside from making the information clear on your website, there are other channels and resources to consider.

Creating downloadable information packs is a useful way of providing financial planners with a valuable resource for promoting your cause to their clients. Holding online or virtual events can also be a more personable way to give your supporters the information they need to make an informed decision.


We can help you to unlock untapped funding streams including potential legacy givers or maximise your existing fundraising efforts with powerful marketing messages. Get in touch with one of the team to find out more.

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