Five ways to improve your legacy fundraising results using digital media

By Megan Veronesi, Partnerships Manager at Farewill

Did you know that cat owners are three times more generous legacy donors than dog owners? That the best day to ask for a legacy is a Wednesday? Or that more people opt to leave a gift in a will on rainy days than sunny ones?

Until recently, most legacy fundraising has involved resource-intensive events or direct mail appeals, which can make it unaffordable for smaller charities. All this is beginning to change, however, thanks to developments in digital technology, which mean it is now easier and more cost-effective than ever to reach potential legacy pledgers – and to understand which communications channels and messages are the most effective. The British Liver Trust, for example, has raised over £150,000 in pledged gifts through online wills, promoted on their website and in emails.

So, what can your charity do to improve your legacy fundraising results using digital media?

Embrace all digital channels
From Twitter to email newsletters to your website, social and digital communications channels offer many simple and affordable ways to connect with potential legacy donors. Facebook, for example, can enable charities to easily connect with the over 55s – the fastest growing demographic on the platform and the second-biggest demographic group in total. This demographic is a natural fit with many legacy fundraising strategies for whom older donors are central.

Focus on the donor and the impact they will achieve
As with all communications, legacy fundraising campaigns should have the needs of the audience in mind. Donors care about people not organisations, so make sure your messaging reflects this. For example, rather than saying that a gift will help support “our work”, instead focus on the individuals a gift will help support. Highlight the difference that will be made, now and in the future, and share stories of the people whose lives have already been changed.

Make the call to action really clear
Short, snappy posts with a very clear call to action are vital. “Claim your free will” or “How will people remember you? Leave a legacy today” are direct, easily-understandable statements. Don’t muddy the waters with long requests. “You don’t have to leave a legacy if you don’t want to, but it would be great if you considered us…” is never going to win anyone over.

Think images and video
Visual elements such as images and video have an important role to play. Photos of beneficiaries are much more engaging than images of wills, while short videos can also increase spread the message about the importance of legacies. These don’t need to be complicated and expensive – an interview with someone who has already left a legacy, filmed on a smart phone, is an easy and effective way to make the most of this tool.

Test, refine – and repeat
Traditional legacy campaigns are notoriously difficult to track, with campaigns sometimes taking years before you see a result. With digital, legacy fundraisers can now test and learn in real time. Social media engagements, email open rates, website traffic, legacy pack downloads and online enquiries all act as powerful measures to help organisations easily understand how successful their legacy fundraising is and the types of communication that work well (or not so well).

If the number of people who said they’d like to leave a gift to charity in their will actually did, UK charities could have access to as much as £12.5bn extra each year. With so much untapped potential in legacy fundraising, digital media has a significant role to play. Is your charity making the most of it?

Megan Veronesi is partnerships manager at Farewill, the digital will service