Legacy Foresight first worked with Include a Charity (IAC) in 2019 to produce 20-year forecasts for IAC week which were presented across Australia by Development Director, Meg Abdy.

The Legacy Foresight team refreshed the forecasts this year, taking into consideration the effects of the pandemic and the Australian bushfires.

We spoke to Helen about her work with IAC and how the legacy sector in Australia has been impacted this year.

Tell us about the Include a Charity Campaign and the work you do with them.

I am the Executive Manager – Membership, Marketing & Include a Charity at Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA). IAC is a social change campaign of FIA, launched in 2011. We are a collaboration of 91 charities in Australia, covering a broad spectrum of causes. Member charities range from UNICEF, The Salvation Army and World Vision Australia to the small volunteer organisations such as PRASAD Australia (a humanitarian NGO) and local organisations such as Meals on Wheels SA.

It is currently just me running the campaign, with lots of assistance from the FIA team for PR, marketing, advocacy, and administration.

What are the main aims of IAC?

Our goal is to encourage more people to leave a gift in their Will, increasing the funds invested in the charitable sector and thereby increasing the positive impact these organisations have on our society. By working together, we believe that we can change charitable giving forever so that over time, gifts in Wills become the norm for the many rather than just a few.

Our campaign is based on three core pillars:

  1. Community awareness and normalising the conversation about gifts in Wills: we undertake marketing activities to increase the dialogue with Australians over the age of 55.
  2. Targeting influencers: through government advocacy and partnerships, we are trying to ensure that every estate planning professional asks the question.
  3. Best-practice non-profit marketing: we work with our members to develop training, assets and research to help them have the best conversations and programmes in this area.

What was the theme of this year’s IAC week? What activities took place?

This year Include a Charity Week focused on continuing to normalise the message through a mix of PR, digital, supporter communications and an online Will offer. We also released our refreshed Legacy Foresight forecast report to members.

We achieved great results with 162 media placements which equated to an approximate audience reach of 11.7 million people. We reached over 770,000 unique users and more than 4,500 fundraising professionals. Our Will guide was downloaded 1,054 times, and the Become a Member button had 38 clicks.

How did COVID 19 affect this year’s campaign?

COVID meant our usual face-to-face gatherings were cancelled and we paused campaign activity from the end of March to May when Australia was in full lockdown. However, we have seen some strong gifts in Wills messaging going out, and member campaigns are still in the market.

We always had a high digital focus, but now we meet online more and share more nationally rather than in state-based groups, which has been positive.

In the UK we have seen a flurry of interest in will-making as a result of the pandemic – has this happened in Australia too?

We are seeing more enquires coming through to our charities. This may be because of the continuation of marketing programmes and people having more time to consider this form of giving.

How have solicitors’ and legacy teams’ ability to process charitable estates been affected by the lockdown?

We’ve seen a slowdown in distributions from the start of the year and probate courts have been slower. Most of the country now is working back at capacity, but there is a backlog. Charities have revised their forecasts accordingly and are keeping a close eye on this.

Looking at long-term opportunities and challenges, the latest forecasts produced by Legacy Foresight suggest that the value of Australian gifts in Wills will more than double in real terms over the next 20 years. Is there optimism about the future of bequest giving amongst charity leaders?

There is still optimism currently. Gifts in Wills is a long-term sustainable revenue stream, and many organisations are realising the potential when other channels are losing ground. There is an understanding that charities need to diversify and ensure that they have different types of donations coming in. It is still an underutilised form of giving, and therefore the potential is obvious to many.

Have events over the past year affected this sentiment, either positively or negatively?

The past year has undoubtedly solidified the belief that gifts in Wills must be part of the fundraising mix – and a proactive approach is necessary. With other channels on hold, those without steady streams of gifts in Wills income have been hit hard. We have seen a growth in membership and a thirst for knowledge in this area.

In the UK, there are concerns about cuts to legacy fundraising budgets in the face of more immediate needs for income. Have you seen this in Australia too?

Some organisations are investing more as they look to the long-term and COVID has provided the wake-up call needed to look at all their fundraising streams. However, the Australian sector will be hit hard over the next couple of years and every investment will be scrutinised, so it is more important than ever to have a good case for support and information on why gifts in Wills is so important.

What comes next for the IAC campaign?

We are launching a proactive advocacy strategy and continue to support our organisations with best-practice training and research. Our community awareness campaign will ramp up in 2021 with plans to refresh our Include a Charity Week activities.

And finally – What is your vision for bequest fundraising in 10 years?

I would love to see every organisation that fundraises make the investment into gifts in Wills and treat it as an important channel for their fundraising mix. If we invested a quarter of the money that regular giving has seen over the past decade, the impact would be huge, and we would start to see the potential that we know is there.

For more information about Include a Charity, or to get involved, get in touch with them here.