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Lessons I’ve learned… Tales from a departing charity Chair

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As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a chance to reflect not just on this year for the sector, but also on my four years as Chair at Remember A Charity. I’ve thought a lot about all the challenges we, as a sector, have dealt with through those years – from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, wars and natural disasters… but also the successes we’ve celebrated along the way.

Here are some key learnings from that time…

The importance of having a strategy and being consistent with it

Joining as Chair of Remember A Charity coincided with the Covid pandemic and all the challenges that hit the sector at that time, which meant we had to be particularly sensitive around the legacy messages and to our members’ and staff needs. We developed clear strategic goals, KPIs and measures to support our vision to normalise legacy giving and got buy-in from our charity membership, and we stuck with them.

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As a result, despite Covid and every other challenge, our membership has not only stayed with us, but grown, so we’re seeing the fruits of that consistent strategy… in terms of interest in Remember A Charity, enthusiasm, engagement and results!

Relevant and compelling creative and content leads to great performance

I’m really proud of the HOW TO videos we created with Remember A Charity ambassador Janet Ellis. These are a great example of how to address important questions in a simple yet compelling and relevant way. They answer consumer need and don’t overcomplicate and that’s why more than half a million people have watched them.

The same is true of our Will You campaign – and that’s proved equally successful as a tool for promoting legacies in a way that’s adaptable by each charity member and for different audiences and applications.

It’s all about having something that is compelling and relevant and meets audience need.

How can gifts in Wills reduce inheritance tax? Still from Remember a Charity How To video, with actor Janet Ellis sitting and smiling to the right.
Janet Ellis supporting Remember a Charity in a How To video


Collaboration is powerful (and fun)

When almost 200 charities come together, we can achieve a lot. But it’s not just about the numbers; it’s the team at Remember A Charity, it’s our Executive and Council all pulling together, challenging each other and pushing for the best outcome that makes the campaign work. We can be bold and brave with our campaign messaging. And we can drive reach by activating a huge network of partners within the sector and beyond, from legal firms and Will-writers to Government and our charity member themselves; all working with the same aim of growing legacy giving and raising more funds for good causes.

We’ve made great leaps in recent years towards normalising legacy giving with it having already risen by 43% over the past decade (reaching £4bn in the UK last year). But there’s still what we call the ‘intention gap’. 40% of charity supporters aged 40+ say they would be happy to leave a legacy while around Remember A Charity’s benchmarking research shows that 20% have actually included one. While this intention gap remains, there is an awful lot more we can do. And the campaign needs you to continue to champion that message. There is real power in numbers.
 

The future is bright (but challenging)

There’s no denying that we’re probably in for another tough year or two – fundraising is hard at the moment and we need to support each other. But the golden age of legacies is almost upon us. The cross-generational transfer of wealth from the Baby Boomer generation is starting to filter through with more growth coming from this generation than the value of legacies from the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945). In response to this opportunity, we’re expanding to include targeting wealth advisors for the first time, with bespoke research planned for member charities, and we’ve got more campaign supporters than a year ago which we’ll continue to grow.

What a whopper of a year! An older man holds a giant marrow, and wears a winning rosette. Part of the Remember a Charity annual review video for 2023.
What a whopper of a year! Remember a Charity’s trademark humour in a still from its annual report video 2023.

Let’s grow that pie together

I was reminded recently in one of our member webinars how much working together makes a difference. ‘By growing the pie in general, everyone gets to benefit from a larger piece of that pie’. I would love to see more charities become part of Remember A Charity – the more that join, the more we can do and the more successful we and the wider sector will be. By normalising legacy giving and sharing that message we can grow that pie for everyone.

There are charities who I believe could and should be consortium members, who watch, are enthusiastic and celebrate what Remember A Charity does but haven’t joined the campaign. Of course I would say this, but I don’t think that’s right, the real opportunity is when all we work together.

Legacy income – generating some 44% of annual voluntary income in the UK, most of which is unrestricted – is proving crucial support for charities large and small. This makes it all the more important that we keep working collectively to raise awareness of the impact of gifts in Wills, enabling charities to rely on legacy income for generations to come.

So why not make joining us your legacy New Year Resolution?!

Allan Freeman, with bookshelf and garden behind him

Allan Freeman has worked in fundraising and marketing for almost 30 years across both commercial organisations and charities, specialising in charitable legacies. He leads Freestyle Marketing which he set up 20 years ago. He works with many of the biggest charities in the UK whilst also helping INGOs develop and implement their global legacy strategy.


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