Asking your service users for legacies – can you afford not to?

3 Min Read

Man signing will - Enable LawAs part of the wider Foot Anstey Group, Enable Law has access to expertise on a variety of legal issues which may be relevant to our charity partners. Helen Hoare, Foot Anstey’s charity legacy consultant, recently drafted this blog:

Legacies, or gifts in Wills, raised an amazing £2.24bn last year for UK charities. Many charities depend on legacies and without them many wouldn’t exist. But it can be hard to be warm and engaging about legacies as we fall over ourselves trying to be sensitive. But charities that get it right have a real confidence and a clear sense of direction about themselves and their audience when they are talking about leaving a gift in a Will.

So, do you want a piece of the action? I’d expect most charities to say “YES!”, but that might be followed quickly by:

“We can’t talk to our service users about death!”
“We don’t have any budget!”
“Won’t we have to wait for years?”
“We don’t know where to start.”

Most charities are primarily focused on short to medium-term income; legacies are by their very nature a long-term consideration. It makes sense for any charity’s fundraising strategy to include a legacy ask, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it might not even cost you anything other than time.

The key is to start from where you are, right now.

Do your research – have you had any legacies before, did you know about the person who left it, how did they support you before and do your supporters live in a certain area.
What’s the plan – have realistic targets, decide what you can spend and integrate this plan across your charity.
Account for the unpredictable – You can’t plan projects based on legacy income yet, but you can plan what you could do if they came along.
Tell people – newsletters, email footers, website page, regular reports and be proud about what could be achieved.
Language – keep it simple, use real stories, and use real images where you can.

The Legacies team at Foot Anstey LLP work alongside Professor Stephen Pidgeon, to bring together legal and strategic marketing expertise to help charities grow and improve their legacy income stream. To find out how our service can be tailored to your charity’s particular needs, please contact Lucy Gill, Partner who leads our Legacies Team, on +44 (0)1392 685257 or by email or Helen Hoare, our charity legacy consultant on +44 (0)207 263 0311 or by email