This September will see the tenth Remember A Charity Week, with charities across the country clubbing together to encourage the public to leave a gift in their Will.
Ten years ago, the concept of a charitable awareness campaign may not have seemed particularly new, but what set the initiative apart was the collaboration of so many charities working towards one goal; creating social change by normalising gifts in Wills.
Here Michael Clark Legacy and In-memory Manager at Cystic Fibrosis Trust and interim co-chair at Remember A Charity, looks back at highlights from ten years of legacy awareness weeks and explores how the consortium’s approach has evolved.
Forget Me Knot
‘Forget Me Knot Week’ in 2009, was the first week-long legacy awareness drive. The campaign was fronted by Margaret Mountford, former lawyer and Sir Alan Sugar’s adviser on The Apprentice.
Celebrating the impact of gifts in Wills, the challenge was to turn the lens on legacies against a backdrop of misconceptions that only the rich, childless and lifetime charity supporters would or could leave a gift in their Will.
While the UK public was known to be reticent about talking death or money, this was a chance for charities to come together and address legacies head on and collaboratively.
The awareness campaign made real strides in opening up conversation about legacies and demonstrated that the public was more open to these potentially sensitive discussions than many charities had anticipated. Support from the legal sector added authority and bred confidence in legacy giving. This paved the way for more innovative and creative messaging over the years that followed.
A bolder approach to legacy marketing
The following years saw the messaging during Remember A Charity Week take on a more bold and striking approach. A photographic exhibition at the Oxo Tower in 2010 provided a visual celebration of the impact of legacy income, and the coalition hit the headlines the following year when top British stuntman Rocky Taylor (aged 64) performed a series of death-defying stunts, raising awareness of legacies. The campaign drew in the support of several celebrities, including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Michael Parkinson.
In 2013, the charities within the consortium wanted to use the platform of Remember A Charity Week to encourage people to really stop and think about how a legacy could enable them to do something truly amazing, and the ‘Take A Moment’ campaign was launched. Using a humorous approach that stressed the importance of taking the ‘right moment’, campaign materials and an online video were developed, designed to be shared on social.
Despite some trepidation that social media was the right place for legacy communications, it proved hugely effective at enabling member charities to reach out and connect with the charity-minded Will-writing audience. The growth of silver surfing among baby boomers saw recent internet usage among the 65-74 year age group rise rapidly from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics, making social channels a key form of outreach for the consortium.
Celebrating the living legends
During the awareness weeks from 2014-2016, the coalition continued to deliver high-profile awareness-raising campaigns, while increasing its focus on giving members the practical tools needed to tailor the legacy message for their cause and supporters.
Remember A Charity shifted its approach to shine a light on legators; the ‘Living Legends’ that were enabling charities to achieve so much. This strategy helped charities make the campaign their own and encouraged the public to tell their unique stories about why they had pledged a gift and to share their inspiration with others.
Through a partnership with the Law Society and with support from government, the consortium reached out to solicitors and Will-writers across the country to gain their commitment to making clients aware of the opportunity of leaving a gift in their Will. This rapidly grew into a network of over 1,000 legal advisors who continue to promote legacy giving.
Communicating the need for action
For 2018-19, our focus has been less on raising awareness, but one of inspiring action, calling on the public to ‘pass on something wonderful’.
Last year’s Human Search Engine produced a treasure trove of video content about the impact of charitable legacies including insight and advice from fellow charity supporters, and from charities as they articulated what legacies could help achieve in the future. While this year’s Remember A Charity Week (9-15th September) will tackle the biggest myths and barriers to legacy giving through a nostalgic 1970s inspired comedy video series. Digital channels continue to be a vital way for the coalition – and member charities – to reach and engage the over 60s in a targeted, efficient way.
A more informed supporter base
This evolution reflects the fact the public has become more informed about gifts in Wills over the years. Consumer tracking studies (Stages of Change Survey 2018, nfpSynergy, & OnePoll Survey, April 2019) now indicate that only 10% of the over 40s don’t know about legacy giving and that 40% say they would be happy to donate in this way, up from 35% a decade previously. Legacy giving is gradually becoming more commonplace with 15.8% of Wills going through probate including a charitable gift up from 12.2% in 2007, but the potential is of course far greater.
As legacies have become a more familiar talking point and the generation of silver surfers enables us to reach out even more effectively, the scope for communicating legacies is expanding rapidly. A collective approach is crucial for engaging the support of government and the legal community, and to convey the importance of gifts in Wills.
Remember A Charity’s work continues year-round to shape the legacy environment, ensure legacies are championed by solicitors and Will-writers, and to build awareness, but September’s awareness week is undoubtedly the main focal point for public outreach and it’s not too late for charities to get on board.
On a personal note, at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, we’ve seen our legacy income treble during our membership of the campaign. We’re fighting for those with cystic fibrosis, and our strategic partnership with Remember A Charity is at the heart of this. Today, the consortium features more than 200 charities working together for a common cause. We hope you will join us.
Michael Clark is Legacy and In-memory Manager at Cystic Fibrosis Trust and interim co-chair at Remember A Charity.
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