It’s the time of year that calls for reflection on times past, but also for looking ahead to the new year and all that we’d like it to bring.  

With total legacy income now accounting for 15% of all fundraised income in the UK[1], at a value of £2.96bn and in-memory giving worth an estimated £410million[2], the team here at Legacy Foresight has put together five thoughts for legacy and in-memory managers to consider to help you make 2019 a great year in fundraising.

  1. Think creatively about how you can engage with legacy pledgers and prospects

Our research shows that providing a ‘behind the scenes’ experience of your charity can really help to build donor understanding and loyalty. But what do you do when your supporter is too far away or too busy to attend your events? This is especially true for time-pressed, tech-savvy boomers – who may be juggling holidays, grandchildren and running their own business on the side!

While there’s a lot of noise out there, an imaginative, authentic video or a touch of online humour can break through – maybe even go viral, helping to generate additional press coverage. It doesn’t need to be – or even look – expensive, if its well-edited and from the heart.

Save the Children’s legacy video  featuring Liberian midwife Alice Sumo who has delivered thousands of babies – 800 of which have been named after her, caught my eye recently, as did WaterAid’s film which invites supporters to join the joyous party at Tombohuaun, a tiny village in Sierra Leone, when they accessed clean water for the first time

Closer to home, Dogs Trust is offering virtual reality tours of its homing centres as part of its face-to-face fundraising, and earlier this year Great Ormond Street Hospital created One Day at GOSH – which shows what happens in a typical day at the hospital, and gives supporters a way to see the incredible work that goes on every day in a way that they cannot in person. 

Meg Abdy, Development Director

  1. Consider the long-term impact of marketing spend made now

Economic uncertainty and declining death rates will continue to dominate in our legacy income projections over the coming years. However, these factors are out of a charity’s control and so it is important that you act on what is within your control and invest in legacy marketing to ensure the long-term health of bequest numbers. 

We know from our legacy marketing evaluation work that investment in legacy marketing does pay off and typically at a higher rate of return than other sources of fundraising. 

The downside, however, is that it is a waiting game, our analysis revealing an 18-year gap between initial legacy communications and the eventual ‘payback’. But, this makes it even more important to act now to invest in the future stability of legacy income!

Kathryn Horsley, Analyst

  1. Question your role in remembrance

We know that bereaved people find comfort in the places, objects and practices that connect them to their loved one. When they lose someone close, people tell us they want to hear anecdotes, collect pictures and gain new insight into their loved ones’ lives.

Sometimes, a charity connection is part of this insight. If the person lost was an ardent charity supporter, fundraiser or volunteer, their charity work is part of their story. This story has significant emotional value for the friends and family left behind.

So, when a charity loses a long-term or ardent supporter, our advice is to think about what it can offer to family and friends to help their grieving process. It may be information about the impact of their loved one’s support. Or photos – of participation in events, or volunteering. Whatever emotional collateral you hold, it can make a difference.

Not only can this help grieving families, but it can also help to build new in-memory connections with those left behind.

­Sue Pedley, Head of Donor Research

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of a bereaved supporter

This year I spent some time ‘mystery shopping’ our 50-odd Consortium member charities in-memory pages – looking in depth at their information on organising a funeral collection, their associated in-memory pages and the general in-memory info. on their sites. 

I learnt a lot, but mainly that – imagining yourself as the ‘customer’, seeking advice and support at this most difficult of times – can be a real eye-opener.

Consider, from the outside in, what you say and how you say it. Is your information for bereaved people full, helpful and thoughtful? Or does it leave you casting around with more questions than answers? Is the tone kind, warm and receptive? Or do you feel alienated or piqued at the first hurdle? Are you genuinely inspired and encouraged by what your charity has to say about remembrance? Or left feeling that the tribute options on offer could never really measure up to the memory of your loved one?

All year we see so much evidence of passion and dedication in in-memory teams – let’s make sure this communicates itself to the most important people of all.

Kate Jenkinson, Head of In-Memory Consultancy

  1. Review the effectiveness of your legacy communications

Today’s charity donor is being bombarded with information from all directions, by post, email and text. So how do you ensure that your legacy communications stand out – not only opened, but read… not only read, but appreciated… not only appreciated but acted upon!

Our recent stewardship research proved that many donors are hazy about the information they receive from the charities they support. There is a danger that your beautifully crafted messages are going straight to the recycling bin (or worse still, landfill!)

Make 2019 the year that you get to grips with the full gamut of communications your legacy donors receive. Are they working for you? If yes, how and why? If no, what can be improved? Can you draw inspiration from other charities? Or from businesses? 

We’re interested in developing new ways to evaluate the effectiveness of our clients’ legacy communications; looking at the volume, breadth and quality of what’s being sent out.  If you’d like to get involved, contact me for more information.

Richard Hill, Programme Manager

This year we are pleased to be making our annual Christmas donations to Mencap and Shelter. Thank you all for the tireless work you do year in year out at your charities.

For more like this from the Legacy Foresight team and industry peers, please sign up to our newsletter.

Seasons greetings one and all!


[1] Legacy Monitor, Legacy Market Outlook Report 2018

[2] In-Memory Insight, 2018