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.
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.
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.
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.
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?’
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).