Legacy income increased to £3bn last year. Charities are now focusing their efforts on legacies because of the UK’s ageing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, 11.8 million people in the UK were 65 and over in 2016, representing 18 per cent of the population. That figure is projected to grow to 20.4 million by 2066.
However, 60% of adults don’t have a will and although 35% of over 40s in the UK ‘would be happy to’ leave gifts to charity, but only about 6 per cent actually do so. This is a huge opportunity for local charities to explain what the work they do and inspire people to leave them a gift for a community cause they care about.
Writing about legacies on and offline can be daunting. Knowing what to say, getting the tone right and knowing where to put the messages on your website or in your literature is challenging. This is where Google is your friend! Look online at how the big charities tackle legacy fundraising – legacy visions, language used, stories, how legacies are spent, information on will writing and the downloads they offer to supporters.
Another important consideration is making sure everyone in your organisation (staff, trustees and volunteers) know about your legacy giving program and are confident to talk about making legacy gifts as a way to support you. Presentations (internal and external) should include a slide about how you would spend a gift from a will. Repeat the message little and often by telling stories to help normalise the idea of legacies as a way to support your organisation. The more people who are confident talking about legacies and including them in their wider work, the greater reach you can achieve with your message.
Finally, know the law. Approach a local solicitor to talk through the legalities of accepting legacies and put together the information a potential legacy donor and their will writer might need. Helpful information is likely to include your official name, address and registered charity number.
For many larger charities, legacies are a major source of income but being a small organisation shouldn’t stop you adding legacy to your fundraising strategy and seeking funds through gifts in wills from your supporters.
Before getting started I strongly recommend you read:
Code of Fundraising Practice https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/code/specific-fundraising-methods/legacies
Charity Commission https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wills-and-charitable-legacies
Remember a Charity https://www.rememberacharity.org.uk/making-a-will/