Comic Relief will launch its first legacy fundraising campaign this month, as the charity says it has “come of age”.
Since Comic Relief was founded in 1985, most of its fundraising has come via telethon appeals, Red Nose Day and Sport Relief. But with television audiences shrinking the charity has been looking to diversify its income and raise funds throughout the year.
This month it will launch its first pro-active campaign to encourage people to leave a gift in their will to the charity, Joanna Ellams, philanthropy and legacies lead at Comic Relief, told Civil Society’s Fundraising Magazine.
The decision was not prompted by the pandemic but was more of an “evolution”.
“We felt that the charity had come of age, and we could see that other charities were starting to focus more on legacies because of the baby boomer trajectory and an increasing number of wills,” Ellams said.
Comic Relief received 1,500 responses to a consultation with supporters, and around a third said they would be willing to leave a legacy gift.
“That was hugely inspiring and gave us the confidence to go for it,” Ellams said.
She plans to start with a small mail campaign this autumn, which will adopt some level of irreverence and black comedy to maintain the charity’s “distinctive messaging”.
As part of Remember a Charity Week (6 September – 12 September), the campaign announced that legacy giving had hit a new landmark, with one million gifts over ten years.
Data from Smee & Ford, the agency which processes legacy notifications, revealed that from 2010-11 to 2019-20 more than one million gifts were donated, with cumulative legacy income exceeding £23bn.
Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: “Donations have long been on the rise, but the global pandemic has accelerated that growth, shining a spotlight on the critical role of charities in our communities and the importance of will-writing. This funding will be vital for the sector as we strive to build back and strengthen resilience for whatever the future brings.”