Juan Hendrawan is currently Global Head of Individual Giving for World Animal Protection, where his job includes legacy fundraising. Before joining World Animal Protection in late 2021, he worked as a Global Individual Giving Specialist at WWF International, focusing on developing new markets for individual giving and legacy giving.
Juan, we heard you have a special interest in legacy fundraising. Can you explain why?
I see legacy fundraising as the underdog of the fundraising world, and I love underdogs. Those who don’t understand it will see legacy giving as challenging to talk to donors, taboo, and uncertain. But from donors’ perspective, it is a beautiful and honourable gesture to give a lasting gift to a cause close to their hearts. The number of trust donors put into an organisation is enormous when they leave a gift in their Will. Also, from the organisation’s perspective, legacy gifts could help to innovate, help their budget, to have more impact, and achieve their goals. It could come as the hero for fundraisers when they least expected. So, overall, I see a legacy gift as a unique gift for both donors and the charity.
What are your main insights regarding legacy fundraising from many years of working as a global fundraising specialist at the World Wildlife Fund and World Animal Protection?
There are many lessons learned and insights through the years. The valuable insight is that organisations sometimes are not paying enough attention to their legacy marketing. The internal mindset and culture are the most significant barriers to starting legacy marketing and being strategic. Legacy marketing is different than direct ask fundraising, it is more subtle, and it is a long-term investment. Many of our fundraising leaders need to be more aware of the beauty and art of legacy giving, the opportunity, and how to do it sensitively and dynamically. I heard many times that legacy is everyone’s job in the fundraising team, which is correct, but in reality, it is also often nobody’s job. I have seen many fundraisers doing everything they can to do drip-drip legacy marketing within their limited resources to keep the legacy marketing going in their office, no matter how small the activity is. And sometimes, it is not even in their job description to do legacy marketing. Hats off to them!
What are your experiences using social media in a legacy giving program? Are there specific learnings or insights you would like to share?
Just do it and ask for help! We are not a social media marketing expert, so go to your digital team and talk to them. Sometimes social media is owned by the communication team, and getting your legacy drip-drip in their busy agenda is difficult. Try to explain what we need and ask for their advice. The digital colleagues might speak a different language than legacy fundraisers, so make sure we have the same understanding of the language we are using. For example, for us as legacy fundraisers, “lead conversion” means that people ask for more information about legacies. It doesn’t mean that they are pledgers or donors already. While for digital colleagues, conversion means that the person becomes a donor. I mean, I am simplifying here, but giving an illustration because this can create not only confusion but also can decide whether a campaign is successful or not.
Another good thing about social media is that you can reach the masses. I want to normalise legacy giving more, so although Facebook is an excellent platform to do legacies, as the demographic is older, we need to be creative to put legacy messages elsewhere, like Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter.
Do you have tips on how fundraisers can make a case for extra investments in legacy fundraising?
This is always a tricky job. I have sometimes failed to get the investment needed for legacies in my career. The key is to be resilient and apply drip-drip marketing in your ask for investment. Keep bringing the new idea for legacy fundraising! What else is essential? Data and numbers are important. Get your research done, start small, and as a good foundation is important, make sure you have your house in order. Consider your business case, database, website, and legacy stewardship plan, and find a good partner to help if needed.
How will, according to you, legacy fundraising develop worldwide in the coming years and decades?
Legacy fundraising will grow in more countries. We are in a time where inter-generational wealth transfer is happening, and a growing number of countries are doing a joint national legacy campaign to talk about legacies with the public. I also hope to have more research on legacy fundraising in countries other than the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia. It will be interesting to learn more about Spanish-speaking markets or countries with solid religious cultures where people have left their legacy to churches or mosques. The legacy-giving culture might be there already, but the knowledge of the public that they can do the same for a charity might not.
Elly Lont, December 2022