The aim of this blog/rant/bombast is to put a bomb under legacy marketing and communication staff/agencies/advisers and destroy barriers which have been in existence for longer than even I can remember. Which is quite a while. It is based on conversations with over 30,000 donors and other stakeholders.
Let me ask you some serious questions:
- Do you really think anyone has left a legacy because of a lengthy legacy brochure?
- Do you really think anyone wants a guide from “their charity” about how to work out what they are worth before they visit their solicitor?
- Do you think the role of your charity is to act as an unqualified legal adviser, tax adviser or accountant when promoting legacies?
- Do you really think the whole act of leaving a legacy should be made complicated?
- Do you think it should be similar to giving a donation: really easy to do? In a few minutes.
I am fed up with expenditure on unnecessary expensive legacy marketing materials which result in a massive brain hurt involving lots of complications.
I admit that there are exceptions – but very, very few. They are the occasional single old person who has never made a Will, never had a solicitor who has more trust in a charity than a professional adviser. They are mainly animal charity supporters and abysmal planners. The other exceptions I have found are in Germany (and only Germany) where they like legacy materials which go on for pages but they might be dead by the time they have finished reading – one was 160 pages!
Recently, a client had registered as a legacy enquirer with a BIG charity and received a very lengthy guide (24 pages) and was deeply disappointed when I suggested a simple A5 six-page leaflet (simple call to action and some great case studies and vision). What infuriated me (I think you know I get passionate) was this: the charity they had approached receives over £20 million from legacies each year and my client does not! What I could not get through to the fundraiser was this: it was not the brochure which produced the £20+ million – it was the cause (which is related to a very personal experience). Most good legacies are driven by a personal experience – directly or indirectly.
So, one more question:
When enquirers phone to ask for a brochure – have they really already made their mind up? Or do they just do not know what to do?
Forgive me, one other question: What IS the difference between an enquirer and a considerer? Both of these segments are frequently mentioned in bad legacy communications. Surely if you have enquired you are a considerer?
Let’s now focus on prospects (those who are alive today). They are intelligent baby boomers who do not want to be treated as idiots. The only information they need (the call to action) is the registered charity name and number and awareness of the fact that “their charity” and “their family” can benefit from “their Will” to any degree they feel they can afford – given their personal circumstances.
Please note in the last 30 years there has been a change of legator profiles from 83% females 30 years ago to 60% females (source Smee & Ford) for MOST charities. There are some exclusions such as animal charity legators and older more traditional charity legators such as the local church. But the fastest growing causes I witness in focus groups are local charities, arts and culture charities and universities. And increasingly current issues such as mental health.
Current prospects have worked (both females and males), they are “marketing aware” and they are the most philanthropic generation we have ever witnessed. And they do not want to spoil their children if they have them. To quote Warren Buffett “I want my children to inherit enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing”. A feeling reflected by almost every wealthy prospect I have met – and I have met loads. Mind you I have also met many lottery players (£1 per week) who yearn to give more but cannot afford it during their lifetime but they can give loads in their Will to fulfil their philanthropic dreams.
I have asked over 800,000 questions to supporters and I watch their faces and body language (not easy on Zoom!). When they realise how easy it is to leave a gift in their Will (of a size suitable to their personal circumstances) the relief is fascinating, and fantastic, to witness.
Revolutionaries often wear masks. A strange coincidence given times now. But Covid-19 is providing loads of older prospects with loads of time to think about their Will. And when you get to my age (66) this is an everyday thought and thought of in a positive light.
This is the perfect moment – make the most of it before it is too late and your best prospects are late.
The opportunity to trigger a legacy revolution lies with charity staff (and possibly getting the approval of badly informed boards). There is one other barrier we must break down: it is the profit gained by advisers/suppliers who believe it is important to make a vast investment (and increase their profit) in lengthy printed legacy materials. Paper is great – but used prudently.
Personal experience ignites an interest in most legacy giving. Prospects yearn to grow the financial ability to affect more change and fulfil dreams.
Dreams come true when you wake up and think “this is so easy to make a reality”
Please – join me and help start a revolution.
I hope 2021 is better than 2020 for each of us.