Mystery shopping finds ‘basic mistakes’ in legacy communications at top charities

22 Sep 2020 News

Charities often make “basic mistakes” in legacy communications, research based on mystery shopping at the top 50 legacy charities has found.

Legacy consortium Legacy Foresight analysed the top 50 legacy charities as part of a project called Legacy Inspire, in partnership with Legacy Voice, looking at their legacy brochures and supporter experience.

It said that one in 10 charities did not respond to requests for further information, and that charities made other “basic” mistakes, including misspelling names and titles and sending the brochure very slowly.

Legacy Foresight said: “These initial basic hygiene factors can leave lasting impressions in the mind of the supporter and could be costing the charities in lost legacy income.

“Legacy Foresight’s recent research revealed that on average only 40% of pledgers and 5% of prospects go on to leave a bequest; in an increasingly crowded market, effective stewardship is essential to convert more interest into action.”

Brochures should communicate longer-term aims

The consortium scored the charities’ brochures according to a range of criteria, including design, imagery, clarity of information and how it encourages donors to make a gift. The final chart is not publicly available, but Legacy Foresight compiled a list of tips to help charities improve their legacy communications.

Among these are linking the communications to supporters’ motives to donate, avoiding legal terminology, telling legacy supporters’ stories and generating trust.

Legacy Foresight said: “When someone leaves a gift, they are buying into the long-term vision and mission of the organisation, embracing the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’. Legacy brochures need to communicate those longer-term aims alongside what the charity might be doing today. 

“Telling legacy supporters’ stories is highly effective; by communicating what others are planning it can help to normalise legacy giving, leverage social influence and can emphasise impact on beneficiaries.”

Claire Routley, head of consultancy at Legacy Voice, says “The legacy brochure is a key part of your legacy fundraising collateral. It’s a great opportunity – and sometimes the only opportunity – to inspire people with the potential of legacy giving. 

“It can share the impact gifts in wills can make to the organisation, and, just as importantly, how legacy giving can meet their need to make a difference to a cause that mattered to them and carry on their influence, long into the future.”

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