Freelance Fundraiser’s Jottings

11 July 2008

Legacy fundraising is for all. Got it?

Filed under: legacies,legal requirements,Marketing — freelancefundraiser @ 10:43 am
Tags: ,

Earlier this week I was speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual National Convention. Our session (I shared it with Paul Farthing, Stephen George & Alan Freeman) was looking at the future of the legacy marketplace for charities. Instead of using Powerpoint and simply speaking at the audience for an hour, we played the session with 4 chairs, one in each corner of the room. No one sat down, there were no chairs for the audience. Each speaker made their “pitch” standing on one of the chairs, giving their forecast of how legacy fundraising would develop over the next 10-20 years. The audience were supplied with plastic ball-pool balls, which they could throw at any speaker if they disagreed with them. At the end of the session the audience were invited to stand by the “pitch” they most identified with as the way forward. As you will have gathered, this was intended to be a fun session with some serious messages included.

As usual, I took my stance from the perspective of the small and local charities, who are not usually seen as big players in legacy fundraising, but statistically, they are making the biggest gains in legacy income growth.

During the following question time, one delegate said she didn’t believe small charities could effectively “do” legacies, as they wouldn’t cope with the administration side of the work. They’d be put off by the legal or specialist nature of it. I disagreed with her and said that legacy administration wasn’t “rocket science”, at which point I was pelted with plastic balls by an ex-lawyer, turned charity legacy manager.

However, I stand by my view. It’s easy for someone trained in law to take an elevated stance on legacy administration, but as someone who has personally come into legacy administration from scratch, taken the time to learn how to do it (including formal training) and successfully dealt with over £7m of legacy income over a period of 6 years, it isn’t that complicated most of the time.

Yes, there are complex Wills and I’ve had my fair share of some very difficult ones, including being taken to court with a contested Will (we won). But one has to know one’s limitations and when you get to that point, you seek trained legal help to get through it. This way of working never let us down and our legacy income, as a small local charity continued to grow year on year.

After the Convention, I kept reflecting on the view shared that small charities can’t really do legacies or proper legacy administration. It really makes me cross that there is still this attitude amongst some of the “big boys” that they are the only ones that have the ability or right to do this type of fundraising and that the small charities shouldn’t get involved with what they don’t understand. My whole basis for being a specialist freelance fundraiser is to show small and local charities that legacy fundraising is easily within their reach and that even if they don’t feel confident enough to do it, there are people like myself, who are there to enable them, show them the way, train them up and prove that legacy fundraising is something for all charities to share in and enjoy the benefits of.

For a taster of what the session involved, I’m grateful to Howard Lake of UK Fundraising for letting me include a short video of part of my “pitch” in this blog:


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