Saturday 28 March 2009

From anything to everything

A recent conversation between one of my colleagues in our legacies team and one of our clients’ donors went as follows: “Oh thank you for calling; I simply wanted to ask … how much can I leave to [charity name]?”

Slightly taken aback, but sensing a golden opportunity, he managed a calm reply: “Well, from anything to everything.”

“Oh good,” the lady said, “I’m so pleased. In that case, since I have no relatives, I shall leave you my entire estate of property, shares and cash.”

It struck me that this happy tale perfectly represents the way legacy fundraising is the confluence of three different streams of fundraising.

Over the years, this lady had been invited to supporter events, including project visits, but in fact had declined.

She had received direct marketing messages, including a recent letter, to which she replied with feedback on the reasons for her support, and an indication that she intended to include the charity in her Will.

On her reply form she had also ticked the box requesting an in-depth conversation with someone from the charity – entering into more of a major donor or planned giving type relationship, where her philanthropy could be unlocked with one-to-one contact.

As Stephen George of the NSPCC pointed out in a seminar at last year’s International Fundraising Congress (ifc) in Amsterdam, legacy fundraising often falls down because the fundraisers either come from a direct marketing background, and know little of major donors, or vice versa. And even fewer come from an events background – an area about which Iain McAndrew of Save the Children is so fervent an evangelist.

It is this combination of different facets that makes legacies such a dynamic and interesting area of fundraising. But for the same reason it is also one of the most challenging.

Given the potentially broad reach of the Remember a Charity social marketing strategy, about to be seen in a new advertising campaign, I anticipate charities seeing an uplift in enquiries and responses across the full spectrum of legacy fundraising.

If you find yourself in this position, will you be ready?

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