Legacy Fundraising Part 2: Are we targeting donors too late?

Most charities are targeting the over 60’s in their legacy programmes.

But is this too late? Firstly it depends what you’re looking for. Undoubtedly you’ll find more legacy ‘pledgers’ in the older segments on your database.  For one, they are more likely to have written a will.

 

legacy blog part 1 graph 1

 

And of course it’s important to understand who your legacy pledgers are in order to aid forecasting and also to ensure you can nurture them.  But  isn’t the real potential for a legacy fundraiser in speaking to those that that haven’t yet decided what charity to leave a gift to;  those that haven’t yet written their final will?

Look at the graph below.  A study by Xtraordinary in 2012 shows that more 23-49 year olds are considering leaving a legacy to charity than the 50+ age group. At 70+ the percentage of people considering a legacy gift drops significantly.

 

thinking about what they will leave

This is something we’ve seen when speaking with supporters on the phone too: the graph below shows a clear decline in interest with age. The older the donor the less likely they are to be open to consideration, to change their will.

 

2nd graph

 

The lesson here is to start the legacy conversation earlier,  before your supporters have written  their will, before they have decided which charity[s] to give to.

Bethan 

5 Things a 19th Century Folk Song Can Teach Us about Telephone Fundraising

As well as writing for Pell & Bales, I’m also a keen folklorist.  Recently, I noticed that one particular folk song works by using very similar principles to the ones I use when writing telephone fundraising scripts.

The song in question is a broadside ballad, historically written to relate news updates, generally with a particular viewpoint in mind.  People would only ever hear the song once, so it had to be immediately effective and memorable.

Sound familiar?

To get the proper experience, listen to this performance of the song through once now, before reading any further.

 

 

What stood out? How do you feel afterwards? Similar to how a supporter feels after they’ve had a fundraising call, I think. Powerful, wasn’t it?

But what exactly makes the song so effective? How can we use this to make sure our fundraising calls are just as powerful?

 

1. Keep the topic simple and the content focused

Firstly, the topic.

It’s so effective because, even from the briefest possible explanation, it’s obviously a bad thing. People died in a fire. There’s no room for doubt.

Remember, someone would only hear the song once.

It’s not the place for nuances, or for in-depth explanations about why something is in fact a bad thing.

You also might’ve noticed that the song didn’t go into a lot of detail – there wasn’t much in the way of set-up or context. The topic’s so simple, it wasn’t needed.

 

2.Tell in terms of an individual, personal story

Now, the content itself. What made the disaster so compelling and relatable?

It was all told through an individual story. (It was also particularly effective because that individual was a young girl, with her whole life ahead of her.)

Granted, some would say the story’s a tad on the melodramatic side, but that’s not a bad thing. When it’s only going to be heard once, it can’t be too subtle or it’ll get missed.

Noticeably too, it’s (mostly) just the one story, developed in steps over multiple verses. This keeps the focus, and builds on what’s been said already rather than having to start from scratch multiple times.

 

3.Use a strong image for each part of the story

How was that individual story told in such a compelling way?

You saw the whole thing.

It might’ve been told only using words, but every stage of the story was based on a very powerful, striking image.

This is made possible by the simple and focused subject matter – a strong image can get across most of what needs to be said.

By anchoring the emotions of each stage of the story with an image, those emotions will stay with you.

 

4.Don’t let statistics distract from the main story

Do you remember how many died overall?

The answer here is “too many”. That’s the key thing.

The song does give a number, but the number isn’t what sticks. It’s the individual story.

The figure itself was very unobtrusive – a simple, rounded number, just indicating the scale. You didn’t have to stop and think about it, so it didn’t distract from the impact of the story.

One identifiable person is enough. When listening, statistics don’t have much impact unless they’re in immediately relatable terms.

 

5.Provide a clear, socially proved call to action

Lastly – what was the song aiming to achieve?

On the surface, it’s to inform people about the disaster, but really it’s to inspire action. In this case, forming a certain opinion.

So which part was the call to action?

It’s the chorus. It repeats, so it gives the listener a few chances to respond. It’s essentially the same, but each time the verse has developed it further, and it follows logically. Each time, it works as a focus, a clear summary.

It might not be asking for a direct response, but it is aiming to motivate you to do something. Implicitly, it’s asking you to agree.

The way it asks is also particularly effective: to join someone else who’s already doing something positive and affirming. This is social proof.

Tom

Copywriter

Legacy Fundraising Part 1: Where are we going wrong?

Speaking at conferences recently with Stephen Butler, we challenged legacy fundraising managers to consider whether their current selection models work and whether they are truly able to target their best legacy prospects.

I asked them: ‘Would you have found Pippa?’

 

pippa

Meet Pippa, a fictional character sitting on the database of cancer charity X:

  • She is 48 years old
  • She has no children
  • She gives just £2 a month and has done so for under 2 years (from what the database tells us)

…perhaps not looking like the best legacy prospect?  Let’s consider a few more things about Pippa before we judge…

  • She has a history of cancer in her family
  • Sadly she lost her husband to cancer
  • She believes everyone should leave something in their will to a charity
  • Charity X is her favourite charity
  • She trusts Charity X explicitly
  • She believes without doubt that Charity X will achieve their vision of beating cancer

An ideal legacy prospect? Of course! She is exactly the supporter you want to speak to (for those sceptical about her age – hold that thought, I’ll come back to that next week).

But would your selection model have found Pippa?

The likely answer is no. The problem is, most charities don’t have access to nor do they use attitudinal data.   And the criteria they do use to determine legacy propensity is based on transactional data and giving history, which can be too prohibitive. We are discounting people because they ‘haven’t been on the database long enough’ or they are ‘too young’.

The answer is to start collating the attitudinal data on supporters and build a model around the information you capture. The easiest way to do that is via surveys. (There are some really clever surveys out there, get in touch or follow future blogs to find out more).

Bethan