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Legacy Fundraising Campaigns

Is it beneficial for small and medium-sized charities to invest in a Legacy Fundraising campaign and if so - where to start?

Legacies are not about the end; they are an opportunity to influence the future beyond your lifetime.


Legacy giving is on the rise, this year, around £3.3 billion will be left by donors in their Wills to UK charities – but who are we leaving our money to?

Health charities receive the largest share at 42%, followed by animal charities and overseas aid - over the last 10 years growth is being seen in environmental charities too and there has been a reduction in religious and social care charities.

Small and medium charities with income less than £1 million make up 97% of all charities and while large charities have in the past dominated the legacy market, over the last few years small to medium charities are increasing their market share and reaping the benefits of investing in a legacy strategy.

Why Legacy Fundraising?

In recent years an increasing number of UK charities have recognised the importance of investing in Legacy Fundraising as a way to secure long term income.

Legacy Fundraising can be a very effective way to raise funds, however, often Trustees and Fundraisers can be reluctant to commit to a Legacy Fundraising strategy through fear of the dreaded ‘ask’ (not wanting to talk about death), investing in an income stream which is not an instant return on investment and dealing with a fundraising income that involves legal terms and documentation - charities are frequently concerned they don’t have the skills needed to run a successful campaign.

This perception needs to change and this change should be a sector-wide approach of normalising this type of giving and recognising that it isn’t about death, it’s about supporters having the ability to make a difference beyond their own lifetime.

So what's not to like? Legacies are seeing significant growth and if your charity wants to secure and grow sustainable fundraising income – Legacy Fundraising is one route to take.

There is no doubt that a legacy campaign will take time before it comes to fruition - it will take investment and charities often have to adopt a drip-feed approach – patience is needed - but with return on investment of up to 50:1, this makes legacy fundraising probably the most cost-effective way to raise money.

By investing in a legacy campaign you will be securing income for the future. According to Richard Radcliffe (expert in the field of Legacy fundraising) of Radcliffe Consultancy, “The average legacy is worth around £25,000 – equivalent to a donor giving £5 per month for 416 years.” That puts legacy giving into perspective.

Where to start?

If you decide you want to invest in Legacy Fundraising and develop a legacy strategy it can be difficult to know where to start, most successful legacy strategies will consider four key elements:

  • The people who will be targeted as prospects to leave a gift in their Will, this group will include charity beneficiaries and their families, volunteers and key supporters.

  • The proposition of the charity - focusing on what the charity has to offer and why people should leave them a legacy. This message is really important to get right, people need to understand what problem the charity solves and the impact they have now and in the future. It is important for the charity to show their future plan, so supporters are reassured their money will be used wisely.

  • Communication-how the legacy message will be communicated out to the various audiences and what forms that will take.

  • Facilitation-providing the enablers to ensure leaving a legacy is simple and easy for those that are interested in doing so - and having the systems in place to manage and monitor progress.

Who needs to be involved in your fundraising strategy and how?

Before embarking on a legacy plan you need to think about who should feed into it and how they should do this, what is their relationship with the charity and how can they support you. The groups of people you might want to involve are;

  • Service users, supporters and volunteers and their families - it’s useful to get feedback to help shape the strategy and find out the status of their Will making situation.

  • Your Team – all staff should be informed about this type of giving and the difference it can make to the charity

  • Trustees – you need the Trustees backing and understanding

  • Solicitors - build relationships with solicitors that will give advice and support on making a Will.

What benefits can legacy income bring for your charity?

If you still need convincing about Legacy Fundraising, here are some key benefits of why your charity should develop legacy income over other types of income.

  • Reliable income stream for the charity. With the potential for a significant and sizable income stream, legacy income can help charities manage cash flow and help make it through periods of instability where more immediate income streams may fail. Legacy income has kept pace during Covid while other income streams have suffered.

  • Unique supporter offer. At a time when many charities and communities are in crisis and supporters want to help, but may not have accessible income, a legacy gift can be an even more fulfilling and an attractive proposition. It is a highly personal and unique bond between the legatee and their chosen charity.

  • Unrestricted funds. This means that charities have the ability to direct monies as needed, whether that is to underwrite new services or simply to keep the doors open in tough times.

  • Longer-term planning. Longer-term income streams enable charities to budget for the future and to plan ahead more effectively, bolstering reserves to ensure charitable goals can be met.


Successful Legacy Fundraising takes time and requires a clear fundraising strategy - get this right and the return on investment is high. You should adopt a charity wide approach - investing time in informing and training key stakeholders is fundamental to its success.

If you want to talk to someone about developing a legacy strategy for your charity please contact Orchard Fundraising for a free no-obligation consultation.


Legacy Trends Report 2021- Smee & Ford


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