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Updated: Nov 26, 2022

How to tap into Will power and unlock Legacy Fundraising potential

Legacy income in the UK is set to surpass £3.6 billion this year, nearly nudging £4 billion and accounting for a third of all charitable giving. A third...

Will power rocks.

But what if your cause has never had a legacy? Or there may have been a rumour of one back in the midst of time? Can you kick start a legacy fundraising promotion from scratch?

Yes you can.

Tip #1 - Tell people you gratefully accept gifts in Wills

You do. You may not have had any, but you would gratefully accept them if they came your way, wouldn't you? Simply talking about the possibility of legacy income (and we use legacies and gifts in Wills interchangeably, apologies for any confusion) allows people who care about your cause to consider this form of giving as an option. We've run many events and had seen that lightbulb moment when supporters say 'I didn't realise I could leave a gift in my Will to <<insert cause name>>'

Well, if you tell them, they will know now.


Tip #2 - Get a Free Will writing service.

A gift in a Will is the ultimate inclusive ask, it costs nothing now (especially with a Free Will writing service and there are plenty to choose from). Having a mechanism in place makes a statement. It shows that you do accept gifts in Wills, and it's a helpful tool for service delivery/clinical/project officers to ease into fundraising. You are doing your supporters/volunteers and staff a favour, a Will writing service is a handy tool to complete a bit of dreaded life admin at the same time as highlighting charitable status and enabling everyone to make a fundraising ask, one that costs nothing now.

"We introduced a Legacy First approach by offering a free Will writing service and trained staff to talk about it and we received a pledge in a Will from a service user who was still on the waiting list for our support. The legacy literally came first." – Connor James - Age Cymru West Glamorgan

Tip #3 - Train your staff to feel confident

Legacy fundraising is not about death, it's actually the opposite. It's a way to guarantee values, hopes, beliefs and the bit that makes a person tick lives on, long after their hearts stop beating in this world. Leaving a legacy means that 'this is me' is immortalised and that's special. In fact, it is inspiring. Teach your staff to talk about gifts in Wills in a positive light and you will set souls on fire, in the best way. At Keepace we see this all the time as the penny drops and confidence is established.

Tip #4 - Legacy Fundraising messages, EVERYWHERE

When do we want legacy messages? Now! Where do we want them? Everywhere!

The truth is that many people don't act on a prompt straight away. This is especially the case for life admin that's a bit icky. So, we need to drip feed the need to make a Will and share the option of a charitable gift wherever there is a touchpoint with your stakeholders and by stakeholder we mean anyone who cares about your cause. Be bold, be simple, be clear.

Tip #5 - Legacy First works

You don't need to have nailed your strategy, you don't need to have segmented your potential audiences into internally meaningful pockets of potential pledgers. You don't need to worry about tax or percentages of an estate. Legalese is not your bag. You are not a solicitor or Will writer, you are not a financial planner. You can kick off your legacy fundraising right at the start of a supporter journey, before they've even passed a first donation post. It's okay to ask and it works.

If you lack confidence, we can help...We do this all the time.

Sometimes it helps to hear what other causes are doing across the sector. That's where Keepace can be helpful, because we know. We train internal teams to be confident around legacy conversations, we can recommend Will writing services and unlock your legacy fundraising potential. You can adopt a Legacy Fundraising First approach and it will work. We're happy to hear from you and schedule a call to explore how we can work with you.


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A long standing belief has been that charities in the UK benefit from having a National voice. A centralised and core identity.

This is true, in part.

The problem with this however, is that many organisations operate like a franchise.

A brand exists, yes...but many subdivisions or local 'branches' who are completely independent of each other, apart from sheltering under a brand umbrella.

Now, I've been to a Wildlife Reserve, owned by a Wildlife Trust and seen RSPB members rock up, proudly show their Wild Fowl and Wetland membership badge and expecting free parking...

(which you're not entitled to as a Wildlife Trust member anyway, never mind a completely different charity...but that's another brand/membership minefield).

My point is that's not uncommon for a committed supporter to get three organisations mixed up.

Imagine how confusing it is for the general public to see a compelling (and expensive) central brand advert on TV and think that by responding directly to that appeal, they are supporting a local charity?

A cause close to their heart that has a real local and social impact maybe supporting people to either live and age well, or improve the communities mental health, perhaps feeding local homeless people and struggling neighbours or a cause dedicated to making your local environment a better place to be.

I've wrestled with this branding issue many times, and most recently it's resurfaced again as a brilliant local service delivery client has successfully generated press attention regarding their lack of funding, explained how they are in huge demand and their plight has been broadcast on national TV.

Unfortunately, this small division of the bigger brand are in crisis mode right at the same time the national brand releases a slick and hard hitting TV ad with a direct link to making a donation to the central brand.

Yes, the way our government system works encourages having one big national voice, yet the devil really is in the detail and that fine print often means a supporter can give to the brand machine and not the local delivery team.

We see this with Legacies too.

In the UK alone there are over £166K charities with more causes being set up everyday.

I hope the future will demand a more collaborative way of working and one that insists donations are fed through to the grassroots where they are needed.

I'd like to see not-for-profits working more effectively together and this is a challenge when the pressure is on to simply get through the day.

Hopefully by equipping local charities with strong and distinguishable brand messages, we can overcome some confusion...but it really is a continuing conundrum and challenge.

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How can you talk about legacy fundraising if you haven't got a fully developed Legacy Fundraising or even Individual Giving strategy in place?

Easy peasy!

In fact, starting from scratch (or reinvigorating legacy messages that may have fallen by the wayside while other income streams have been developed) is arguably a great place to be. You have a fairly blank canvas and moderate expectations.

But it is important to make a statement that you gratefully accept gifts in Wills, regardless of how many or how few you have historically had. So that you have one of the key building blocks in place. As well as a team fully prepped on what they need to know...

Legacy Fundraising is special, and it is an inclusive ask, one that non-fundraisers can embrace and talk about if you provide the right messages and confidence around them.

A Legacy First approach is even more relevant today as research has shown that those who cannot commit to giving cash now, are relieved to get their affairs in order and if they include a charitable gift to your cause, they can become significant donors in their lifetime.

It's all about unlocking potential and offering another channel of support.

We very much suggest you have a Will writing offer in place and this doesn't need to have a huge (or in some cases any) price tag in place and if you'd like to hear more, then we're workshopping the Pillars of Legacy Potential in Manchester on 29th November 2022.

Come and join us!

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