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How to Develop a Strategy for Legacies


With legacies such an important income stream for many charities, it is amazing how many organisations underperform in this area or make little effort to attract support. Yet designing and implementing an effective legacy strategy need not be difficult and will repay it self many times over in the future. So where do you start?

A simple framework for designing a campaign can be based on the 3 P's of legacy fundraising. These are the People you will appeal to, the Proposition you will employ and the Promotional channels you will use get your message out. If you get these basic elements right, you will have the core ingredients of a legacy strategy.

When considering the people you will target, every charity is different and your opportunities will not be the same as the next organisation's. Audiences could include donors, volunteers, clients, members, relatives and friends of clients, trustees, shop or site visitors, social media followers and many more. So list all the audiences you can reach and also put some numbers against them. You will be surprised at how many people you can reach with a legacy message! Give some thought too to the types of people you have identified. What are the like? How do they compare to the people who may have left you legacies in the past (if any)? How can you best reach them? What sort of language will you need to employ when talking to them about legacies?

Secondly, spend some time thinking about the proposition or case for support. Why should anyone leave your organisation a legacy? What difference will it make? What might motivate them (for example, it could be to give something back if they have received help, or it might be to help others)? The proposition should be positive, inspiring and future focussed. It is not about death but about the future. You need to appeal to both "head and heart" in the message you will use. Some emotion is important but people also need to feel it makes sense and that their money will be put to good use. So make a strong case for the needs you are addressing and underline how your charity is well placed to meet them. Once you have a draft, consider testing this and other aspects of the campaign in a focus group of potential donors.

Thirdly, you need to plan the communication of your legacy messages to the audiences you have identified. Again, every charity is different and you communications mix will not be the same as the next. Most campaigns use a mixture of traditional comms (literature, displays, mailings) and digital (website, email, social media). Integration is key here and will also keep the costs of your campaign down. Try to build your legacy messaging into the other things you plan to do and remember to drip feed the message gently but regularly over time. Legacy fundraising is soft sell but needs to be kept in front of people over time, as few people will rush out the first time they read it to make or change their will.

There are of course many other things you can do to build future legacy income, but if you get these three basic steps right you will have a legacy campaign that you can build on. Be sure to maintain it over time, so that, when the results start to come in, you will see a sustained income for the future.

If you would like to talk about developing or refreshing your legacy campaign, please call our legacy specialist on 01903 723519 for a free chat. He has been devising legacy campaigns for 25 years and is happy to talk to clients about what they can do, as well as running focus groups, drafting legacy propositions and copywriting legacy materials.

There is further information here about our legacy fundraising services.

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