Making legacy fundraising fun

Howard Lake | 7 July 2008 | Blogs

I was interested to see that piece of research last week about making legacy marketing fun. It is an area of fundraising that tends to arouse slightly nervous titters amongst fundraisers (cue jokes about cold mail and reactivation).
It baffles me why so much legacy marketing material is almost pious and respectful beyond belief! I have never once received legacy marketing material that reaches me effectively.
For me – and many million like me – leaving a legacy to a charity is the only chance I’m going to have to be a major donor (and, hopefully, to be treated like one). It’s the only chance I’ve got genuinely to make a difference. And it’s painless, as I’ll be long gone when the money’s spent. It might upset my children, but that’s another story.
So why do I receive legacy mailings that talk about legacies being useful because it helps the charity plan? Hold on a minute – do they know when I’m going to die? If not, how can a legacy possibly help a charity to plan? We all know how wildly bequests can swing from year to year – they can have a dramatic impact on planning and also falsely raise trustees’ expectations in good years, which are then missed in bad years.
Leaving a legacy should be a joyful experience making the legator feel really good about themselves, and giving them a real sense of how their money will make a difference when it finally comes through.
A communications programme, keeping pledgers up to date with what current bequests are being spent on would keep me engaged and give me a good idea of how my money will be spent. It also reinforces the view that while it’s best to leave your money to the charity and not the project, my bequest won’t simply disappear into an adminstrative black hole when I die.
It’s time legacy fundraising came out of the closet and admitted that it’s one of the most liberating and exciting ways of giving whilst also being the most painless.
Now… I wonder which charity will be the one to finally float my legacy boat!