Too small for legacy fundraising?

19 Dec 2016 Lynn Kennedy    Last updated: 14 Jun 2017

This article looks at how you could add legacy fundraising into your funding mix

What exactly is legacy fundraising?

 The Oxford dictionary's definition of a legacy is simply, "an amount of money or property left to someone in a will."  
 Legacy fundraising is therefore just about investing some resources to talk to donors and supporters about their leaving a gift in their will to further your organisation's great work. 

Is it worth considering?

Legacy fundraising is the single biggest source of voluntary income to charities and non-profit organisations in the UK with over £2 billion raised each year. In addition, not only is it a major potential source of income, but it is also a way of generating usually unrestricted funding, giving you freedom to choose exactly how the money will be spent in the future.

  Throughout their lifetimes, many people run marathons, climb mountains, skydive and bungee jump to raise money for charity.  In fact, 74% of people in the United Kingdom support charity in some way during their lifetime.  However, only 6.3% leave charitable gifts.    

Some statistics on gifts in wills in Northern Ireland...

  • NICVA's 2014 Individual giving Survey showed that 95% of respondents had no plans to leave a charitable gift in their wills, while just 2% had already done so.
  • This survey also found that just under one-tenth (9%) of respondents would consider leaving a gift in their will if charities outlined how their money would be spent.
  • A further 9% stated that better communication on gifts in wills would encourage them to make a pledge.

As a smaller charity, you may feel you don't have the time or the resources to invest in legacy fundraising.  However, before dismissing this potentially lucrative income stream, take a look at Will to Give's extremely useful pointers for getting started in this type of fundraising. 

Top Ten Tips for Legacy Fundraising

Some great tips from Deirdre Murphy, Support Officer at Will to Give to help you get started are: 

  1. Talk about it:  encourage your staff, volunteers and trustees to talk about ‘gifts in Wills’, equip them to have the confidence to do this
  2. Create a vision of what you can achieve together – make sure everyone understands the real benefits legacies could bring to your work and your clients
  3. Link in with other organisations that are spreading awareness of ‘gifts in Wills’ and can provide support like Will to Give.
  4. Look at how the bigger charities are promoting legacies and borrow some of their techniques and messaging
  5. Review what legacy funds you have received in the past and profile the type of people who have supported you in this way or support you in other ways
  6. Project how much you could raise, what investment you can put into it and use this information to develop a simple strategy
  7. Drip feed your message in all of your communications (as Marie Curie puts it ‘drip drip drop’) and talk about it on your Facebook or Twitter pages
  8. Promote it at reception, in your charity shops, website or on promotional leaflets and integrate it into your other activities
  9. Measure the number of enquiries you receive, web clicks to your legacy fundraising page, how many people in your charity had a conversation about ‘gifts in Wills’ and amend your strategy accordingly
  10. Refer people on to a solicitor to help them draft a Will and request a free Will Writing Guide from Will to Give to provide to your supporters.

And finally, just stick with it! It only takes one gift to make a huge and lasting difference to your charity.

Will to Give

Will to Give is a group of over 50 charities in NI, working together to raise awareness of gifts in Wills and maximise this type of income.  Organisations like Will to Give want to ensure that charitable giving through Wills becomes much more of a social norm, where everyone does it as a matter of course.   
For more information see, email them at  [email protected] or follow them on Twitter @WilltoGive's picture
by Lynn Kennedy

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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