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Mystery shop project shows important role of legacy communications

Mystery shop project shows important role of legacy communications

A mystery shop of legacy communications by Legacy Foresight and Legacy Voice has highlighted the important role legacy communications play in encouraging people to leave a bequest. 

Legacy Foresight has partnered with Legacy Voice in a project to mystery shop the top 50 legacy charities and find out how well charities perform when responding to an initial enquiry.

The project, Legacy Inspire, focuses on the legacy brochure and communications received to assess the initial supporter experience potential legacy donors are receiving and how different charities compare.

Among its findings, it discovered that:

  • When someone leaves a gift, they are buying into the long-term vision and mission of the organisation, embracing the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’. Legacy brochures need to communicate those longer-term aims alongside what the charity might be doing today
  • 1/10 of the top 50 charities did not respond to the enquiry for more information. Basic mistakes were also made, such as misspelling names and titles. Several were very slow to arrive. These initial basic hygiene factors, it says, can leave lasting impressions in the mind of the supporter and could be costing the charities in lost legacy income
  • Telling legacy supporters’ stories is highly effective; by communicating what others are planning it can help to normalise legacy giving, leverage social influence and can emphasise impact on beneficiaries

Legacy Foresight’s recent research revealed that on average only 40% of pledgers and 5% of prospects go on to leave a bequest, with effective stewardship essential to convert more interest into action.

The Legacy Inspire Summary Report includes the key elements for success, practical advice and ten top tips for creating a great legacy brochure, and is available to download here.

Richard Hill, programme manager, Legacy Foresight, said:

“We all recognise the vital importance of legacy income for charities, now more than ever. Legacy Inspire aims to shine a spotlight on examples of great legacy communications and to give charities the evidence and insight to improve their initial contact with legacy donors.

“We hope that Legacy Inspire will create a positive and constructive conversation about what makes an effective piece of legacy communication and give fundraisers the tools to engage and inspire more of their supporters to act to make that all-important gift in their Will.”

Dr Claire Routley, head of consultancy, Legacy Voice, added:

“The legacy brochure is a key part of your legacy fundraising collateral. It’s a great opportunity – and sometimes the only opportunity – to inspire people with the potential of legacy giving. It can share the impact gifts in wills can make to the organisation, and, just as importantly, how legacy giving can meet their need to make a difference to a cause that mattered to them and carry on their influence, long into the future.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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