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Home / Funding & income / Fundraising / Fundraising forum / Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Legacy fundraising - recruiting

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Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by MelBelle at Oct 15, 2008 02:07 PM

It feels really awkward to ask people to remember my charity in their Will. Has anyone got any suggestions for the best way to do this?

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by John Oliver at Oct 15, 2008 02:12 PM

Tricky one! If it helps, people don't just write their Wills when they are old / ill but at key times of life (getting married, moving house, having children). 

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by ianbruce at Oct 20, 2008 11:59 AM

Previously wrote:

Tricky one! If it helps, people don't just write their Wills when they are old / ill but at key times of life (getting married, moving house, having children). 

I agree but this still doesn't answer how to raise the subject with people, get a positive reaction and for the charity to be able to follow up. Does anyone out there have any practical experience of this?


Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by Bernard Eccles at Nov 28, 2008 06:28 PM

One specific example is my old University contacted all alumni with a letter asking who would like info on how to bequest a gift in a will. Those that responded got an info pack which included example wording for the different ways of doing it (eg specific sum, residual sum etc)

Bernie Eccles


Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by Graham Richards at Feb 04, 2009 02:52 PM

You don't need to make a direct personal ask. Use your regular newsletter - it won't cost you anything either! Make sure every issue has a short legacy item in it: e.g. a story about someone who left you a gift in their Will in the past; some interesting facts about legacies; what ideas you have for developing your work if you had the money to do it and that gifts in Wills could make that happen, etc.

Don't talk about "legacies" and "bequests". Keep to everyday words, like "gift in your Will", people will understand that.

I've lots of examples of ways to promote gifts in Wills, all based on what worked in my charity. Being sensitive to your supporters in how you ask is part of the skill of legacy fundraising. If you want to find out more, check the "Ten top tips for getting started in legacy fundraising" on my website Resources page at:

Legacy fundraising is accessible to all charities, no matter what size. In fact, the smaller and more local, the better, because you have a really personal link with your supporters. And remember, "small is bountiful" and it needn't cost you much, if anything to do.

Graham Richards - Freelance Fundraiser

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by ianbruce at Feb 05, 2009 11:16 AM

smaller charities can get legacies, graham's point
hi Graham, I think you are absolutely right and your suggestions as to how smaller local charities can promote their need for legacies are really practical and do-able.
     Do you get the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness e-Newsletter? If not do ring our office on 020 7040 8781. Are you anywhere near London because as a fundraising expert you may be interested in Charity Talks which is featuring direct mail/marketing next time, especially for small/medium size charities. Also today/tomorrow we shall be putting up a podcast of last night's speaker on Major Gift fundraisng. Ian (Bruce)

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by Rachel Beer at Feb 15, 2009 08:40 PM

I agree with Graham that a continual 'drip-feed' of legacy messages in communications, such as newsletters, is a great way to keep legacy giving front of supporters' minds at all times - and this is one way to encourage legacy giving without asking directly.  It also means that, when you do make a direct ask, it will not be the first time your donors will have heard about legacy giving, so they should be a little more 'warmed up' to the concept, or at least aware of it as a method of support.

Charities can be overly concerned about asking for legacy pledges or gifts, or even talking about legacy giving, because of the unavoidable association with death.  This discomfort about mentioning it often means that they don't talk about it enough or do so in slightly veiled and awkward terms - which, ironically, is less likely to be appealing to supporters.  Again, I agree with Graham's advice on this, that simple, everyday words are best.  In addition, I would strongly recommend positioning legacy giving in positive, upbeat and 'feel good' language, and not falling into the trap of being overly grave (no pun intended) or using euphemisms.

The old adage, 'if you don't ask you don't get' is useful to bear in mind, particularly with legacy giving, since your supporters need to know that they can give to you in this way in order to consider doing so in the first place - so it's really important to make sure they are aware of it.  I also think it's important to ask directly, too.  This is an especially relevant ask for long-term, loyal donors, who have been supporting you generously for some time.

A gift in your Will is simply one of many ways to support a charity and not one you should feel any more awkward or difficult about mentioning than any other.  If you approach legacy giving feeling awkward about it, the experience is more likely to feel awkward to your supporters, too. Being confident and direct, and using positive language, is much more likely to get results.  A legacy gift is, after all, often the biggest donations a supporter will ever make, so your approach should enable and encourage them to feel really good about it.


Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by Viviane Morris at Mar 04, 2009 01:43 PM

Something you could consider is setting up an online In Memoriam page - there is no cost and you benefit directly.

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by W Editor at Mar 09, 2009 10:39 AM

There's an interesting article about legacies and the Remember a Charity consortium in this month's Professional Fundraiser.

Re: Legacy fundraising - recruiting

Posted by W Editor at May 15, 2009 02:32 PM

New research from Third Sector Foresight about what is happening to legacies in a downturn.

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