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Legacy Fundraising - what's stopping you?

In carrying out fundraising reviews over the years, we have come across numerous charities which have really not grasped the legacy opportunity. Yes, they may know that legacies can be good money, with a fantastic ratio of return, but somehow they never quite get round to planning and running a proper campaign. What is it with these people?

OK, we know that a lot of organisations are focussed on the short term at the moment, but they are probably the ones which focussed on the short term ten years ago. If they had made the investment in legacies then, they would now be enjoying great returns. The recession is just the latest excuse.

We are not talking here about those charities which have effective campaigns in place. They are clued up ones who already recognise the potential of legacies and are reaping the rewards. We are talking about those procrastinators who never get round to it or come up with a myriad of excuses why they should not do legacy fundraising.

Previously, we have come across a wide range of excuses, such as "our trustees don't understand legacy fundraising" (so whose job is it to tell them then?) or "we don't have the budget for legacies" (even though they have the budget for things that raise far less money pound for pound).

Other excuses include "we'll get on to legacies once we have sorted X, Y and Z" (usually a list of pet projects which) or "we don't like the idea of asking people to leave us money in their will - it's too sensitive an issue" (yet some hospices manage to do it very successfully). Some even won't do legacy fundraising because they think it is high risk, just because it is a long term opportunity and they cannot measure success in hard cash in year one.

It's time we nailed this once and for all. Let's get these excuses out in the open where they can be properly debated. We have set up a survey in Survey Monkey and am inviting fundraisers to contribute their views and experiences from where they are sitting.

We will share the results of the survey and hope that, in the process we can open up a proper debate and persuade a few more charities that investing in legacies really is worth the candle.

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