2016: A good year to be in legacies?

The simple truth is this; whether it be friends, family or charity, good people never forget you.

It’s not been a quiet year in legacies, from any point of view. Tomorrow the Ilott vs Mitson case hits the supreme court, following some surprise in the sector at previous decisions. Perhaps our legislation is heading more towards that of other nations where the law will dictate who is to benefit from our estates. Certainly, we appear not to have the freedom we once did as to who should benefit when we have family and dependants.

Media scrutiny over the sector has been vast. Like all legacy fundraisers though, it is still compelling to speak with generous supporters over the reasons why they have chosen the charity to benefit from their estate. It was somewhat of a relief to hear something positive in the news recently concerning legacies – the Nazi Prisoner of War who left £384,000 to the Scottish village where he was held prisoner during World War Two. The simple truth is this; whether it be friends, family or charity, good people never forget you.

For me it’s been a great year to be in legacies. We’ve shared more as a sector, collaborated more, and contemplated best practice to showcase our charities and how leaving a gift in your will can help ensure we are all here to benefit our beneficiaries long into the future.

The changes proposed to preferences will mean that to be truly successful in legacies those of us who hide purely behind direct mail appeals will face the greatest challenge; those who include the messages across other service provision and charitable activity should have scope to thrive in the long term.

Our Remember a Charity campaign now has over 180 consortium members, and I am pleased to have joined the Executive Committee to help ensure that our campaigns are fresh, relevant, and insightful for all of our members. The IOF Fundraising awards last month celebrated success and the evening was a great place for us to be proud to be a fundraiser during turbulent times.

There is no doubt we will see change in the field next year; what will be the effect of tomorrows ruling and how will this impact our promotion and ability to receive legacies in the future?

For me personally, another year means another new Will – my fourth. For good reason: I’ve developed relationships this year which I want to acknowledge in the distribution of my estate. I know many still find it a daunting task writing a will – I’m the opposite, if I meet you and like you I’ll be down the Solicitors adding you in as beneficiary by the end of the week. Pity my estate is of nominal value.

So, as Mystic Michael, my predictions for 2017 are that they will again be a challenging year, but one where we will be able to thrive. More and more people are considering including charitable gifts, and more and more charities are coming forward to mention the consideration in the course of charity fundraising. We will have an innovative Remember a Charity week to benefit more members supporters than ever before. Plans for the IOF Fundraising Convention are already underway, and I am looking forward to speaking at the IOF Hospice Conference in London and Crewe, as well as at Testament.be, the consortium of Belgium charities developing their legacy fundraising.

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It is now a year since David Rootham (CBM) and I staged our first Cambridgeshire best practice group, which we merged with one in Peterborough run by Sally Young (Marie Curie) and Becky Baguley (CRUK). We have now had a successful year of collaboration and sharing best practice with 25 legacy and in-memory fundraisers, and have attracted speakers such as Helen Smith (CRUK), Kim Smith (Marie Curie), and Stephen George (Freelance Management and Fundraising Consultant). We have some additional committee members who bring a wealth of experience to the table, and this collaborative group will allow us greater promotion in the East in the future, perhaps following in the footsteps of the success of Legacy Liverpool and Leave a Gift for Cornwall.

Many come into legacies and leave again, as their careers develop. But as we see charities understanding more and more the importance of legacy fundraising, it’s been an interesting year to see new roles at different levels, and some international opportunities arise. Lets hope this will continue, meaning a long career path can develop in this still relatively niche field so that we can all grow old in our legacy careers like Richard Radcliffe!

Wishing you all a happy Christmas and all the best for a happy, healthy, collaborative new year, where supporter experience and legacy inclusion in supporter journeys is key to success rather than spreadsheets showing the amount of new pledgers.

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