Legacies: what your charity should know

Find out why you should be paying attention to legacies

With around £2.21 billion being given to charities in wills each and every year, it has become harder to ignore the potential impact that legacies can have on your charity. So it’s time to stop hoping that one day your charity will be left a wonderful gift, and start thinking about how you can make people want to leave a legacy to your charity, that will no doubt  have a huge effect on your beneficiaries.

When we think about legacy giving we often associate it with charities with long-term missions and a well-established name. However in reality, the number of legacies given to medical research has not increased in 10 years. In contrast to this, the number of legacies to small, local tangible causes – even less “popular” causes – are going through the roof. But why is this? It comes down to the fact that trust in big charities is decreasing due to things like the extensive media coverage of the collapse of Kids Company and the worries surrounding poor fundraising practise and data sharing. All the while trust in local smaller niche players is growing, as people can see and measure their impact for themselves.

How does my charity secure legacies?

Unlike other forms of fundraising, you do not need to spend a single penny on ‘legacy fundraising.’ If, like most, you read the opening of this blog and immediately started mentally planning your legacy brochure to showcase all the good work your charity are undoubtedly carrying out- hold your horses. This go-to technique is often a big waste of money and doesn’t often see a return on your charity’s investment.

Our ageing population recognise the brilliant services provided by small, or more focused local charities in real need of financial support. You should be consistent with your exposure rather than contacting people when you are in most-need of a boost from a legacy donation. Making it as easy as possible for those who are thinking about leaving a legacy to your charity, will ensure it turns into an action and is very important to this effort.

Why are legacies so important?

A gift from someone’s will can make a massive difference to future generations of beneficiaries using your charity. The average legacy is worth £18,000 so just imagine if you were able to get 10 legacies every year- your charity could be transformed and you’d have more resources to enable you to work towards your mission.

Legacy income is growing every year, whilst individual giving does not and this is partly due to older people finding they are short of cash but discovering they can leave a legacy. So when you sit down to assess your fundraising it is important not to forget the value of legacies. Grab the most important time in history and develop a legacy campaign with no risk and huge benefits.  All you have to know is how to do it well and keep all your stakeholders happy!

About Richard Radcliffe

Radcliffe Consulting is a legacy fundraising consultancy driven by global legacy expert Richard Radcliffe FInstF Cert. With 35 years in fundraising, which includes more than 25 years specialising in legacies, there isn’t much about legacy fundraising that Richard doesn’t know.

Richard divides his time consulting, training and mentoring charities and fundraisers across the world to maximise their legacy income. He can guide you through legacy research, strategic planning and the development of all your legacy communication materials to deliver a successful legacy fundraising programme.

Find out how to raise money from legacies on our upcoming course