WWF inte­grat­ed lega­cy mar­ket­ing campaign

Exhibited by
Sally Burrowes – WWF-UK.
May 22, 2009
Medium of Communication
Posters, press advertising
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
November, 1987

SOFII’s view

This is a truly ground-breaking communication for fundraising. Not only did these press advertisements and posters herald a new approach to the promotion of legacies (bequests), but they were also the first ads to use jargon-free language and to talk about legacies in plain, everyday terms that any one could understand. The advertisements featured conversational and quite challenging copy lines that, interestingly, were later modified in places, perhaps showing that that those higher up in the organisation were less adventurous than the fundraisers who conceived the ads. An example of this is the replacement of the word ‘adultery’ with the much milder word ‘divorce’.

Creator / originator

WWF developed this campaign in combination with their agency at the time, Chapter One Direct.

Summary / objectives

To increase WWF’s legacy income by recruiting legacy pledgers (LPs). WWF’s strategy was to build a large database of people interested in making or changing their will. They did this by offering, free of charge, an easy to understand guide to what’s involved in making a will. Subsequent communication with this file would aim to convert them to legacy pledgers.


Marketing for legacies was in its infancy – most charities relied on ad hoc advertising. WWF decided that an integrated marketing campaign would highlight the necessity for having a valid will as there were many misconceptions surrounding this area of law. A jargon-free booklet was written called ‘Keep it in the Family’, which gave general information on probate matters. It included a brief write up on WWF and asked people to consider leaving a legacy to the charity.

Special characteristics

Conversational and quite challenging copy lines.

Influence / impact

Huge impact with over 45,000 requests for the booklet having estimated 6,000 responses.

Within a very short time, many other charities also copied their ‘indirect’ approach to lecacy marketing. WWF claim to be the first charity to really market legacies effectively, though a similar campaign appeared around the same time from the YMCA and which was first is disputed. As it was seen as a very sensitive area, they benefited from leading the field.

WWF’s legacy income more than doubled in less than two years and the charity is still receiving actual legacies from this early activity.


The integrated marketing activity included:

  • Advertising in various media: using the shown samples
  • Posters
  • Single stage mailing to supporters (sending will guide upfront)
  • Two-stage mailing (sending flyer to request will guide)
  • Mailing to solicitors
  • Mailing to Citizen Advice Bureaux


For innovation and for leading the field in legacy marketing.

View original image
One of the early posters with a selection of later campaign materials. Click on the image to see the rest of the exhibits in greater detail.
View original image
WWF legacy marketing materials.