Happy to share and reflect on some ideas and insights from this year’s CIOF Legacy and In-memory conference in London.
1) Charity legacy income expected to remain resilient despite economic crisis
There were some great insights presented by Legacy Foresight’s economist Jon Franklin. In particular, the turbulence and instability resulting from the war in Ukraine, the spiralling cost of living, and inflation, are concerns many charities share, especially how this will impact future income. Expectations are that due to the economic environment, legacy income growth will stagnate in the UK over the next two years, with overall legacy income at around £4bn over 2023/2024 before returning to growth and reaching a value of £4.4bn by 2027.
The most significant risk to legacy incomes in the near term is a downturn in the housing market. However, Legacy Foresight also expects the predicted increase in deaths for the upcoming years will offset the lower housing prices’ impact. (When asked about predictions for The Netherlands, Jon Franklin assumes a less significant negative impact of the economic crisis on legacy income, due to the robust economic growth over the past years).
Legacy income is expected to be more resilient to the current crisis than other income streams. The case was clearly made for investing in this form of fundraising to ensure a stable and healthy financial future for organisations. Ashley Rowthorn reminded the audience that we have to prepare and invest now for future growth, make our voices heard and that we need to be ‘fired up’ and ready ‘ready to go‘.
2) Communicating a 1% gift in wills – a tricky question about volume versus value
The conference opened with a very intriguing discussion on whether or not we should communicate a 1% gift in wills to supporters. Advocates’ strongest argument is that this would widen the market space and stimulate gifts in wills of people who want to ensure that their loved ones are taken care of. It would also remove a keybarrier; people still believe legacy giving is only something for the rich.
The opposing side of the argument suggested that communicating the 1 % gift would anchor a tiny percentage to a big target group of potential pledgers, and therefore, limit higher-value legacy gifts. The audience voted at the end of the discussion – but no clear position was established. Conclusion? There are no simple answers to this tricky question.
3) Every organisation should consider In-memory giving
In-memory giving is not yet well known and developed in continental Europe, but in the UK, income from in-memory gifts has grown enormously in the last 10 years. Research by Legacy Foresight shows that the UK charity sector received around £410 million from In-memory donations in 2019, however, the research also stated that the figures are likely to be even more significant (estimated £2bn a year). Health funds dominate the In-memory market because they often commemorate someone who has died of an illness. But also, In-memory donations to ‘loved-by-life’ charities (organisations that symbolise a person’s passions and values) are increasing.
So, there is enormous potential for charities, but it is crucial to understand the motivation behind In-memory giving. Catriona Brickel explained that, unlike legacies, In-memory is a reason for giving to charity rather than a way of donating. Therefore, she emphasises that In-memory giving should not automatically be linked to or embedded into legacy fundraising programmes. However, every legacy fundraiser should be interested in stimulating In-memory gifts because people giving in memory are three times more likely to include the charity in their wills.
4) A successful legacy campaign is much more than a creative concept
Steve Law shared insights around the components of successful legacy campaigns. Next to the importance of, for example, ‘strategy’ and ‘people’, he emphasised the relevance of ‘culture’ – stimulating an internal legacy culture throughout the whole organisation. A legacy campaign is truly successful when all colleagues understand the basics and the importance of legacies, trust the legacy message, have the skillset to support the campaign proactively and have the confidence to have (more) legacy conversations. The ‘silver bullet’ for legacy fundraisers is to stimulate a ‘legacy culture’ internally by simply starting to say ‘thank you’ and showing colleagues what they are already doing to support legacy giving throughout their work.
5) Exchange and collaboration
It’s great travelling to the London conference; learning from and being inspired by the knowledge and insights of UK legacy fundraisers – but it’s so much more effective and fun when doing this with a group of other (in my case Dutch) legacy fundraising enthusiasts. Learning from each other, reflecting from our own context and perspectives, and stimulating exchange is important. Meg Abdy raised the very valid question of whether it is time for an international Legacy Fundraising Conference.
 In marketing, ‘anchoring’ is the process of focusing your potential buyer on an offer or price by leading them to believe this is their best option.
Lena Vizy. November 2022