In December we finished our Understanding Legacy Stewardship research findings, which saw us work with 29 of the UK’s leading legacy charities. Our member survey revealed that almost all of the charities in our research consortium expected to be investing more resource on legacy stewardship over the next five years; 42% of them anticipated a lot more investment.

As somebody who has worked client-side, most recently at RNIB, designing and implementing supporter stewardship programmes across individual giving functions, I know how hard it is to manage this in a holistic and considered way.

Greater investment – while good news – has a range of implications for the fundraising team; from increased workload to deliver a more integrated and sophisticated level of personalisation to a more general increase in communications and the additional resource required to manage this, communications need to work harder to cut through the competition.

In many (though not all) charities, the silo mentality persists, posing a genuine challenge to managing stewardship programmes effectively – not just within the legacy team but all teams that influence the supporter relationship.

Based on my experience, gained over the past 17 years, there are several key areas to consider for improved stewardship and integration across teams. Here I will look at the following three areas; preparation, internal communications and resourcing, highlighting ten top tips to ensure you’re delivering your, and more importantly, your donors’, desired supporter journeys:

  1. Understand the current supporter journey through the eyes of the supporter. Mystery shopping will help achieve this. I can guarantee that communications are sent that shouldn’t be!
  2. Are your current communications giving the supporter what they want? Is there a single coherent message or are there multiple stories being told by multiple teams asking the supporter to do multiple things?
  3. Make sure that your data ownership rules are being followed. The wider use of postal addresses for direct mail may now be limited, but many organisations don’t see email addresses in the same way, which may lead to over-solicitation across teams.
  4. Ensure buy-in. From the head of fundraising to the delivery and support teams, everybody needs to believe that an organisation-wide planned supporter experience is essential for both the charity and its supporters.
  5. Is the culture right for cross-team working? Everybody has targets and a budget to hit; this should not be to the detriment of the supporter journey!
  6. Plan a hierarchy of communications and content across teams.
  7. Set up an organisation-wide repository of content to be used centrally. This ‘library’ will speed up the communication content process and enable effective integration of journey content across teams.
  8. Use a central planning tool or spreadsheet that allows all departments to view the calendar of communications for that year
  9. Most commercial organisations (and some charities) will have a central planning team or manager that takes ownership with a sense of neutrality for communications planning. This means objectivity can be maintained in the face of competing contact strategies.
  10. Having one person to oversee the content library will enable a smooth flow of case studies and key statistics that teams can draw upon to populate newsletters and other communications.

These tips, of course, will take time to implement but there’s no time like the present to start that process. Initially, have a conversation about your supporters and how you wish to communicate with them. Are you happy with the current experience or do you want something different? Even something extraordinary! If there’s the collective will to make a positive change, then you’ve already started.


Legacy Foresight has developed Legacy Journey, a new online platform which will track the communications received by legacy and in-memory donors throughout their supporter journeys.

Legacy Journey is a consortium-based product and will give visibility of every member’s legacy stewardship communications across all channels and all legacy segments.

Legacy Journey will enable legacy fundraisers to:

  • Ensure their planned supporter experience matches the experience received
  • Ensure GDPR compliance and that internal data ownership rules are followed
  • Learn from peer charities about the breadth, frequency and ‘quality’ of communications, and gain inspiration for creative and copy
  • See how legacy communication trends across the consortium are changing over time

As well as access to the online platform, members will receive monthly communications updates, an annual bespoke review with recommendations to improve legacy communications and an annual consortium-wide presentation, discussing best practice examples, charity case studies and broader consortium trends.

If you wish to find out more about Legacy Journey, contact Richard Hill.

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