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My inappropriate crush (and some AMAZING legacy fundraising tips)

Confession time.  I have an epic crush on legacy fundraising guru Richard Radcliffe.

Not sure this is news as a) I have talked about it before and b) it’s unlikely that given the state of the world at the moment anyone actually cares.

For those of you who know, have met or who have come across Richard and his teachings will probably understand.  What I love about Richard is:


  • He shares SO much practical and helpful advice, never leaving a fundraiser in any doubt as to what to do next.
  • His credibility is off the scale, having interviewed tens of thousands of donors over many, many years of fundraising practice.
  • He is unashamedly himself, funny, engaging, direct, to the point and a tad sweary.


I’ve seen Richard speak twice at Institute of Fundraising events on the topic of legacy fundraising and both times, I’ve lapped up every word.  I‘ve shared my notes with countless clients.  Richard’s teachings have helped so many charities with best practice legacy fundraising.

It’s hard to distill so many gems into a short (ish) blog post, but here are the most important takeaways that I’ve learned about how to do legacy fundraising really well.


  1. No leaflet is going to induce a supporter to rush off and make a will


There are life events and moments which encourage us to make a will.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Getting married, having a kiddo, buying a house
  • Falling ill or fearing falling ill (I wonder how many more wills have been written or updated in recent months?)
  • Retirement
  • Realising that you’re a grown up and that having a will is something you’re supposed to have as a fully-fledged adult human (I confess, I haven’t got round to making mine yet)

Getting a leaflet from a charity, even if it’s a charity you love, is not going to motivate many people to call their solicitor for the first available appointment.

So what’s a charity to do?


  1. Legacy fundraising shouldn’t be a time limited campaign, but part of core messaging built into all communications and content


It should be sustained, frequent and subtle.

Ideas for drip feeding your legacy message:

  • Produce an annual impact report with a legacy vision on the final page
  • Integrate messages into newsletter header and in your email footer
  • Provide wording for a will on your website and in newsletter. Make it easy for people (and don’t bombard them with information they don’t need)
  • Make a legacy bookmark with ‘did you know…’ facts on both sides

And remember, a legacy brochure is a waste of money


  1. Legacy giving is rampant and is about to explode


This is a direct quote from Richard.  Personally, I find it heartwarming that more people are recognising that a gift in their will is a really easy way to make a significant difference in a way which costs them nothing in the short term.

When I get myself organised, I will certainly be remembering a charity in my will.


  • 1 in 2 baby boomers (those born in the years after the second world war – 1946 – 1964) are putting a gift in their will to charity.
  • 10 years ago, 1,700 charities benefited from legacies. Now it is 3,000.
  • 8% of all deaths in the UK will result in a gift to a charity. These numbers are increasing every year (2017)
  • Legacies used to be left by a very specific segment of society (largely women who didn’t have children), but now everyone is doing it!


It’s also exciting to see that a wider range of charities are benefitting from gifts in wills.  Heritage and arts charities are benefitting alongside organisations which save lives at sea, train guide dogs and rescue cats.  Smaller organisations are, for the first time, getting a slice of the pie.

So, what are you waiting for:


  • Start with a dedicated page on your website, with a simple guide for those who have already made their decision.
  • Craft a legacy vision which sets out the big change you want to see in the future (and why).
  • Be sure to tell the stories of those who have already left legacies to inspire others (ensuring you have permission of course) in your newsletter, on your website, in your blog.


Massive thanks to Richard Radcliffe whom I’ve possibly not only embarrassed with this post but have also shared many of his best tips.

If your charity wants to do legacy fundraising better and has a budget for this work, then contact Richard to see how he can help.  At the very least, check out his brilliant blog here.

Posted in Fundraising.