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3rd – 5th July 2017
The Barbican

Free Wills Month will chalk up its 50th campaign in October. Some lessons ...

: Richard Millar

With 48 full-scale campaigns under our belts in the UK, Free Wills Month has established itself in the public mind. Generating 3500 legacy pledges in Britain every year, the campaign model has spread to Canada, Ireland and the USA

After raising more than £46 million in future income, here's what we've learned...

1. No Will = No Legacy

Less than 7% of people include a charity in their Will – but recent research by Remember A Charity and the Law Society of Scotland showed that 40% of people were open to the idea (and it’s reasonable to assume that applies UK-wide). A remarkable 60% of people writing their Will through Free Wills Month include at least one charity in their Will. Good intentions remain just that – good intentions – unless the Will gets written and the gift gets included. No Will = No Legacy!

2.  The landscape of media advertising and consumption is changing rapidly

When we ran our first campaign back in 2005, we relied exclusively on local newspapers as the most effective way to communicate with our target market. In recent years however, we've had great success with digital media – in a recent campaign our website had over 14,000 visitors in one day. With more and more people at and above retirement age using the internet, the media mix we are using is changing.

3.  Having a consortium of charities works

While we can't claim to have created the consortium idea as such – Will Aid preceded us by some years – we can definitely argue that being able to offer supporters a basket of well-known charities within selected cause areas really does work when it comes to encouraging people to leave a legacy. The key to securing legacies is a combination of the right timing, removing barriers and choosing cause areas that appeal to everyone.

4.  Solo campaigns work too!

We’ve continued to run Free Wills campaigns for individual charities alongside our Free Wills Month consortia, and both models can produce great results. Our recent solo campaign with Tenovus Cancer Care won an award for ‘best-not for profit strategy’, demonstrating that our single-charity campaigns can achieve fantastic results for both sub-national charities as well as household name organisations looking to extend their individual brand.

5.  The people you choose to work with are an extension of your service

The solicitors we work with are our greatest asset as they're the ones publicly representing the brand through their services. This is why we choose to work with fully qualified solicitors (registered with their relevant Law Society) who can write Wills with the sensitivity and professionalism that is necessary. We also regularly recruit new firms to strengthen locations. 

6.  Looking past Dorothy Donor

One of the most important things we've learnt through our campaigns is to look past the typical donor generation groups. Great gifts can come from all types of socio-economic groups. Legacy Foresight predicts that between now and 2050 the legacy market will have more than doubled in size. Our sense is that the profile of legacy pledgers will become more diverse. 

7.  There is no International cookie-cutter approach

A lesson from growing our business in Canada, Ireland and the U.S. is that there is no rigid model of legacy marketing that will work in all markets. While statistics on legacy marketing and the legacy fundraising environment are similar in all the countries where we operate, engaging with them successfully requires a range of different approaches. But an advantage of working in different markets is that experience and ideas can be cross-fertilised.

8. Timing is everything

People may see publicity for Free Wills Month but not act on it at that time: sometimes there are considerations that have to be worked through before they’re ready to see a solicitor – and of course the regular nature of Free Wills Month coming round every year helps. Having charities front-of-mind when someone writes their Will is far more likely to lead to a charitable legacy.

Richard Miller, Capacity Marketing for Charities

Capacity Marketing are co-sponsors of the Legacy track at Convention 2017

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