The NSPCC lega­cies TV ad: the what will we leave?’ campaign

Exhibited by
June 20, 2012
Medium of Communication
Broadcast and television, online
Target Audience
Awareness, legacy
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
May, 2010

SOFII’s view

The NSPCC ‘what will we leave?’ gifts in wills campaign is a first for legacy fundraising in the UK. Combining a TV advert with media coverage and online marketing, the NSPCC were able to create a positive, happy and colourful campaign aimed at creating ‘talkability’ around the difficult subject of legacies. By focusing on a ‘conversation-based’ approach, the NSPCC wanted to raise awareness of gifts in wills and also to engage a slightly younger audience. The resulting video and micro-site, is a wonderful example of how to inspire your donors and increase their support.

Creator / originator

NSPCC/the Whitewater agency.

Summary / objectives

  • To raise awareness of gifts in wills and the importance of these gifts to the NSPCC’s work..
  • To involve a new slightly younger audience than traditional legacy marketing.
  • To become the children’s charity of choice for legacies.


Gifts in wills are a huge source of income for charities. For the NSPCC alone, gifts in wills account for roughly 15 percent of income, or around £20 million, in 2008/2009.

Despite being a key fundraising priority for the NSPCC, leaving a legacy is seen as a difficult subject to talk about. Over 65 percent of gifts in wills for the NSPCC come from people who were otherwise unknown to the charity. Research done by Remember A Charity, shows that 74 percent of people give to charity in their lifetime, whilst only seven percent of the population leave a gift to charity in their wills – simply put, leaving a legacy is not considered a normal thing to do in the UK. When you consider that the average residuary legacy gift to the NSPCC last year was almost £40,000, you can see the value of growing the number of people who would consider a gift if they received a message that was powerful and compelling and the right approach was in place.

The general approach to talking about legacies demonstrates the lack of understanding; with charities either avoiding the subject or communicating in a traditional pledge-based way. Until 2008 the NSPCC was guilty of both. We told people why gifts in wills were important and asked them if and when they were going to do it. If they said ‘yes’ we asked them to tick a box. Often people just ticked yes because they didn’t want to be asked again. Realising something was inherently wrong with this approach we went back to the NSPCC’s key principles and listened to how our supporters wanted to be approached about such a sensitive and tricky subject.

After extensive work with both supporters and non-supporters, we created a different way to talk about legacies. The language, tone and imagery were designed to mirror the donors’ concerns and objections, but also their hopes and passions. They told us that it should differ from normal NSPCC communications in that it should be an uplifting message: one of hope for the future. We created a legacy charter, which outlines our 10 promises to anyone we discuss gifts in wills with. This document underpins everything we do and is both the starting point and the user guide. With this in place we shifted our focus to conversations rather than pledges and sought to communicate in a more insightful way.

After Remember A Charity’s initial successes in trying to normalise the topic with the UK public, the NSPCC felt that there was an opportunity for a major charity to leverage this with a reinforcing campaign around its own cause – and in doing so helping to create a stronger legacy brand for the NSPCC. Using what we learned from talking to supporters about legacies, we decided to create a fully-integrated marketing campaign to raise awareness of gifts in wills for children through the NSPCC. The resulting campaign was ‘What Will You Leave?’

Special characteristics

This campaign was a market first: a TV advert that was specific to legacies and an integrated media and online campaign aimed at creating ‘talkability’ and raising the NSPCC’s profile when it comes to gifts in wills. The themes of the campaign were protection and inheritance; we asked people to consider what world they would like to see for children and invited them to consider leaving ‘their protection’ in the form of a gift to the NSPCC. One of the key themes is that while we may not know what the future will hold for children, we do know that the NSPCC will need to be there for them.

The TV advert featured a voice over from the actor John Cleese and showed traits, values and emotions that are passed on to our children. It also poses a prompt viewers to consider helping the NSPCC protect children through a gift in their will. To find out more the advert asks viewers to visit a microsite called There they can think about what they might say to their own families and leave their thoughts, or to say what they want for children in the future though a child’s ‘bubble’ that drifts through a beautiful play park. This shared content will be used to inspire others and to get people talking about the impact they can make by looking after their loved ones first and then leaving a small share of what’s left to help the NSPCC protect children in the future. The campaign was also supported by social media, including Facebook ads, polls, video and on Twitter. Banner ads were tested on target websites.

The campaign was also supported by PR activity, including radio interviews with the NSPCC’s development director for legacies, Stephen George, and an audio feature by John Cleese.

Influence / impact

The NSPCC’s approach to legacy fundraising, resisting the temptation to ask for pledges and instead focusing on a conversation-based approach, means that we may never fully know the true impact of the campaign. However, by redefining the measures and outcomes, it is clear we can measure real impact through the level of engagement and conversation the campaign generates. Initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, with the campaign being talked about across both sector and marketing press and a great response from the general public.

Through involving our broad NSPCC family on social networking sites, we received many unprompted messages telling us that people had already left us a legacy and had been inspired to share this through the campaign. Considering one of the most challenging aspects of legacies is not being able to communicate with people who haven’t told us that they have left a legacy, this was a really positive, unexpected side effect.

During a recent legacy telephone campaign many respondents remarked that they had seen the advert, and talked about it in glowing terms. Bearing in mind that our aim was to make a powerful, lasting emotional connection we believe that the impact on the market has been tremendous. Not only has it raised awareness, it has also provided a fantastic conversation starter and opened people up to the concept of legacy giving.

We undertook pre- and post-campaign awareness surveys, which indicated a 45 per cent upward change in the number of people who recalled seeing gifts in wills advertising for the NSPCC, indicating that we have managed to make this ‘connection’ with a large part of the market we reached out to.


Over 22,000 unique visitors to during the two week advertising campaign, over 5,000 of whom are now considered to be in ‘active engagement’ with the NSPCC and gifts in wills. The average time online was 3.08 minutes.

10,190 people took part in Facebook polls used to advertise the campaign; Facebook was one of the biggest drivers for traffic for the microsite.

Radio coverage featuring NSPCC staff, including Stephen George, and John Cleese reached nearly 30 million people and 184 radio stations across the United Kingdom.

Featured prominently in both charity and marketing press.

Post-campaign awareness results show positive reactions to the concept of gifts in wills, the NSPCC as a potential recipient of such a gift, and awareness of the campaign itself.

Internal campaign included an e mail to 223,724 supporters with a 13 percent opening rate and over 3000 click-throughs to the microsite.


In promoting gifts in wills, ‘what will we leave?’ took a concept that is exceptionally important to charities of all sizes but difficult to talk about and turned the idea on its head. Rather than the usual and somewhat safe and flat advertising associated with gifts in wills, WWWL? was in turn positive, joyful and colourful with a unique mechanism to engage people and inspire them.

As the first advertising of its kind in UK legacy fundraising, the campaign was groundbreaking and original. The aim was to try something new based on insight in line with the way the NSPCC approaches its fundraising.

Other relevant information

The adverts will be broadcast again in September to coincide with Remember A Charity week.