3rd – 5th July 2017
The Barbican

Do not put the next of kin in the bin

: Richard Radcliffe

I am at a fundraising conference. The first person I meet is an amazing fundraiser. He was with a large local charity for 10 years but now runs his own company. I helped him develop (but he led) a truly great legacy campaign. He is well known so no names, no pack drill.

I asked him “How is the legacy campaign going?”

“You won’t believe this “ he said (and believe me, we are both about to sound like Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave – very apt) “but with all the staff changes in the fundraising department,  the Finance Director is running legacy marketing and admin.”

“I don’t believe it” I said.

I did not want to believe it because I know the dreadful quality of supporter communications which come out this department (and sadly many others) .

Now let’s think about next of kin and hold it there.

Now let’s quote one leading firm of solicitors who said they had witnessed an increase in contested charitable Wills of over 700% in recent years: by next of kin.

Mould into this equation the lack of trust and confidence in charities and I can forecast a large number of public next-of-kin- explosions coming soon.  Well, it has already started (front page of The Times some weeks ago let alone other media), and it is likely to get worse.

Excuse me for asking, but would direct mail campaigns, events, or corporate fundraising be put in the hands of the finance department?  And yet so often legacy administration is in the hands of financial departments. Why?  Depending on the size of charity the only reason for involving the finance department is possibly valuing assets and banking the money – but that does not mean they should deal with the bereaved. The legator might be dead but family members and friends are alive and kicking. And they will kick charities more.

Then consider that the reasons for charitable legacies are often “inherited” by children. Next of kin are great legacy prospects. This is a subject where next of kin, if handled badly, are the next in the bin in terms of care and consideration.

So come July at the brilliant Fundraising Convention, I'll be exploring what the other barriers to legacy programmes are, and debating whether trustees are the biggest barries to investing in a sustained legacy campaign.

Come along – you might well be putting the whole sector at risk if you do not listen think and take action.   

Richard Radcliffe, Director of Radcliffe Consulting, and IoF Chair of Fellows

Rant with Richard in his Convention session "Trustees are the biggest barrier to investing in a sustained legacy campaign. True or false?" at 9:15 on Tuesday 4th July

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