Legacies and bequests

Please treat this section with respect. For if within these pages you can find out how to increase your share of the massive legacy (more commonly referred to as bequests in North America) income that seems to fall each year from heaven above into fundraisers’ laps, you’ll have done well indeed. So, this is the place where you’ll find some of the best ideas worth borrowing, truly the all-time greats of legacy marketing.

Is this the best way to develop bequests?

by Rich Fox

Most organisations are surprised when they receive bequests. Many of the people who leave bequests do not even appear on the organisation’s donor file, and most of the others have been only low value donors for a number of years (and are often lapsed) -- not the kind of people who you might expect to leave a large bequest.

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In lieu of flowers: how to write lively memorial donation thank-you letters

by Lisa Sargent

Are your in-memoriam donation thank-you letters destined for donor oblivion?

This copywriting clinic looks to help you rescue them from a fate worse than, well… death.

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Rhode Island Foundation: why less can be more with the annual report, particularly when it comes to legacies

by SOFII

To send or not to send? If you ask your donors if they want to receive your annual report, why do you think they don’t reply? It could be inertia, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. Maybe they think they'll be saving you time and money, they’re nice, considerate people after all. By the same token intertia will stop them going to your website to view your report online – and you will never know. If you send a printed copy, you know they have it and might they not be more likely to look at it, if it’s there in their hands? The stories here from Tom Ahern and the Rhode Island Foundatio show the power of the printed word.

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University of South Carolina: ‘We are South Carolina Y’ALL’ (Young Alumni Leaving a Legacy)

Front of the postcard

by SOFII

Innovative and engaging alumni fundraising from USC shows the education sector how it should be done.

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Association of International Cancer Research: Inspiring Stories Book

AICR’s Inspiring stories book.

by SOFII

By creating real, personal, one-to-one conversations, AICR not only inspired their supporters, they also made them feel as though they really cared.

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YMCA: ‘soft sell’ legacy advertising

by SOFII

In the mid 1980's, the YMCA offered a free legacy information service to generate a list of potential prospects...

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RNLI: the legacy letter

by SOFII

This letter raised £millions. It is a classic example of a direct appeal to supporters for information to help plan for future income. An example of a candid, plain-speaking, respectful letter to remind supporters that RNLI relies heavily on legacy income to fund their work.

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Great Ormond Street Hospital: legacy marketing 1856

by SOFII

Why is it that the giving and receipt of legacies figured strongly in Victorian literature, yet is largely absent today? The announcement in the annual report of The Hospital for Sick Children (later Great Ormond Street Hospital) appeared just four years after the hospital was founded, but it was already obvious that gifts of legacies would be very important to the health and development of the hospital.

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Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia: bequest conversion pack

by SOFII

This very detailed exhibit shows clearly how to ask donors and potential donors for the biggest gift they’ll ever make – a legacy. The campaign achieved brilliant results and stands out in the charity sector as an example of good bequest (legacy) 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.

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Greenpeace Sweden’s legacy commercials

by SOFII

Colourful cartoon characters present the threats to their environment and set up a conversation about legacies for Greenpeace in Sweden. It’s all about trying new things and taking risks, which too many organisations shy away from. Greenpeace International has developed a structure to make them possible.

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