Legacy income exceeds £3 billion
For the very first time, legacy income for charities has exceeded £3 billion according to the latest Legacy Trends report from charities commentator ‘Smee & Ford’.
One of the main contributing factors is the rising price of houses which, where an individual leaves a residuary gift, is inflating the size of estates being left to charity. In 2018, 90% of legacy income came from residuary gifts, highlighting the importance of the value of an individual’s home to the size of the legacy.
As ever, there is great potential to increase your charity’s legacy income as a small rise of just 1% of probated estates passing to charity would lead to a further £109 million in charitable income.
So what can you do to optimise your chances of harnessing this potential?
Who is your typical donor?
Begin by identifying your typical donor. You can do this by identifying past legacies and working out the sex, age, geographical location and date your donors wrote their Will. Identify the values and types of legacies you have received.
Use this information to cross reference your own database of supporters so you will know who to target. Don’t feel you have to limit yourself, you may not know who your real typical donor at this moment in time.
What is your message?
Now you know who to target consider the best way to communicate to these people.
Your charity may do lots of wonderful things, but you will want to stress the right things to the right people. Telling a prospective donor about something they relate to will of course increase the likelihood they will leave a legacy.
The importance of data
Ensuring any data you do have is recorded properly is very important.
Consider categorising supporters. Broadly you can do so in three categories.
- Someone who has simply made an enquiry about a legacy
- Someone who intends to write a will with your charity included
- Someone who informs you they have already left your charity a legacy
How you communicate with your supporters will likely depend on the category they fall into.
Communicating with donors
Tailor your communications. If a supporter has lapsed then ask yourself, why? What can you do to get them back on board? Importantly, don’t forget to thank your current supporters.
Converting an enquiry will be key to legacy generation. You might have general enquiries about how to support the charity or specific enquiries about legacies. Consider how you will deal with each type. Producing a legacy pack or putting all the information neatly together on your website will help. See if you can follow up to assist that person.
A legacy will need to be written in an effective and valid will. Consider partnering with a reputable firm of solicitors, that way you can have confidence that the will is properly prepared.
Dealing with Donors
It will be important for those dealing with legacy enquiries to be knowledgeable and at the very least able to signpost.
A donor might have very specific questions about the charity or even technical legal and tax questions. If you have appropriate literature and partners you can signpost to this will help.
Your website and legacy information – avoiding complications
Your website will be a great tool to assist with all of this.
Some donors will want to ‘go it alone’. If they do so then by supplying them with the best information you can you will stand the best chance of that legacy succeeding. There are many cases of mistaken identity, incorrect addresses, spellings and charity numbers which can cause countless problems. Providing something that a donor can cut and paste could save the day for your legacy.
Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to tell. People like good news stories. People also like to leave their own legacy. Tell prospective donors what previous legacies have allowed you to achieve and what future legacies will help you to achieve.
Consider holding events to raise awareness of legacies.
Keeping in touch
Remember to keep on thanking. Keep records of the outcomes of your campaign to identify what has and hasn’t worked.
The long game
Remember this is unlikely to be an immediate success. Keep recording the data and work out the average lapse time for legacies. The lapse time is the time it takes between a will being written and the legacy being paid. This will give you a better idea of when the legacies you are campaigning for now might be achieved.
There are lots of ways we can assist your charity with your legacy campaign, ranging from assistance with wording for website and legacy literature to attending and speaking at events for your supporters and potential donors. Contact me directly via matthew.rose@GAsolicitors.com or call 01752 203500 and I will be happy to help.