Children’s Can­cer Insti­tute of Aus­tralia: bequest con­ver­sion pack

Exhibited by
Pareto Fundraising
September 04, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, press advertising.
Target Audience
Legacy, major gift.
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, healthcare.
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
August, 2006.

SOFII’s view

CCIA and Pareto Fundraising stepped out from behind the ‘will-making information’ shield and proved that, when done in the right way, charities can ask for a bequest in a donor’s will without causing any offence.

Creator / originator

Fiona Paterson, account director, Pareto Fundraising; Sally McGowan and Naomi Byers, account managers, Pareto Fundraising, working with the CCIA client team

Summary / objectives

The primary objective for this campaign was to develop a bequest (legacy) conversion pack that would present donors with the case for leaving a residual bequest to CCIA. The pack was developed for a warm audience who had indicated a willingness to talk about bequests through prior direct marketing, telephone and face-to-face contact.

Other specific objectives included:

  • To encourage donors to leave a residual bequest to CCIA by demonstrating how it would have an impact on its work.
  • To ask donors to advise CCIA if they have left the charity a residual bequest.
  • To identify those donors who intend to make a bequest and those who are still considering it.


For most charities bequests are the largest single source of voluntary income. For many Australian charities, bequest income can yield, on average, anywhere between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of total income. Yet, the area of bequest marketing remains barely touched by many fundraisers.

To continue as a leader in preventing cancer and to find new ways to cure cancer in children through world-class research, CCIA identified the need to develop its bequest programme to take advantage of the opportunity to develop a programme that will provide significant income for the Institute in coming years.

CCIA already knew it had bequest prospects because, through various acquisition campaigns, it had asked a large number of people if they had made a bequest to the Institute, or whether they were intending to. The plan for this campaign was to develop a bequest conversion pack that approached these prospects and asked them to leave a bequest to CCIA in their will.

Special characteristics

Bequests are not an easy subject to broach with donors. Asking for such a gift must be approached with care, sensitivity and respect for the donor.

This was also the first communication CCIA supporters would receive specifically about bequests so all materials needed to communicate effectively.

Several tactics were used to make sure this pack achieved a high level of donor care and was still able to stand out amongst the other bequest packs and requests for support that are in the marketplace.

Many of the bequest packs being produced are more ‘how to’ instructions on writing a will rather than a request to leave a bequest. This pack contained an emotive four-page letter that detailed a case study of a child who survived cancer and showed how a bequest from the recipient to fund CCIA’s work would help even more children.

The pack was developed to initiate a one-to-one conversation with CCIA’s bequest executive. It was highly personalised and CCIA was able to tailor each letter based on the recipients’ previous interactions with the cause. The letter was from the bequest officer and gave her name and address and encouraged the donor to discuss the matter further.

The inclusion of a response mechanism was crucial to the effectiveness of the pack. It was clear and simple and gave recipients the opportunity to tell CCIA vital information about their bequest. They were also able to say if they wanted further communication with the bequest officer.

A testimonial from a confirmed bequestor was included showing donors what motivates other supporters to make a bequest and how easy it is.

Influence / impact

This approach has given CCIA a successful bequest conversion pack that they are able to roll out as part of their ongoing bequest conversion programme efficiently and cost effectively. The pack is mailed each month to a selected group of prospects, allowing for phone follow-up and visits on a level manageable by CCIA.

Quarterly bequest gathering functions have followed the campaign, which give confirmed or prospective legators the chance to meet each other (the best ambassadors for bequests), talk to CCIA representatives, hear about research into childhood cancer and allow CCIA to thank them for their wonderful support.

Most importantly of all, it has meant that CCIA will receive the funds needed to get one step closer to achieving its mission: helping to create a future without cancer.


All costs are exclusive of GST.

Agency Fee$13,289
Printing & Production wave 1Ongoing - Managed by CCIA
PostageOngoing - Managed by CCIA


Before the development of this pack, CCIA’s bequest programme was virtually non-existent. Since adopting this conversion pack as part of an ongoing bequest strategy, CCIA has been able to identify 136 confirmed legators on its database and approximately 200 donors have been in contact with the bequest office and intend, or are considering, to leave a bequest to CCIA. Through bi-monthly mailing of the pack to key donors these figure are continuing to increase.


This campaign achieved brilliant results and stands out in the charity sector as an example of good bequest marketing. It showed that asking someone for a bequest doesn’t have to be daunting and risky, as long as it is done in a sensitive, respectful manner that offers an emotive and compelling case for support. It demonstrates that asking for a bequest is a great chance for the charity to engage in a personal conversation with the donor and further build on existing donor relationships.