Charities 'respond poorly to legacy inquiries'

One in three top charities ignored a request for legacy information in a recent survey, and many of those that did respond sent material that was difficult to read, fundraising agency Bluefrog has revealed.

The organisation approached the top 93 charities by voluntary income to assess how they use the internet in legacy fundraising. Researchers used the charities’ websites to ask for information about legacies. Three months later, they contacted the organisations that had not responded to ask again for information.

The findings, unveiled at the end of last week, show that 30 of the organisations did not respond at the first ask. Of those, half still did not respond after being approached a second time. Of the 15 that did respond at the second ask, only three apologised for the delay.

Of the 65 per cent that did reply in the first instance, one in three took more than three weeks to send anything.

“Legacy enquirers are potentially worth tens of thousand of pounds,” said Hugh Stockhill, legacies specialist at Bluefrog. “They should be treated like potential major donors. Poor customer service is unforgivable.”

The research also found that the majority of the charities tested (85 per cent) used design styles in some or all of their legacy materials that made them hard for older people in their target audience to read.

Only 15 per cent of charities avoided the use of difficult-to-read styles such as light text on a dark background, grey text or coloured text on another colour. Most charities (68 per cent) used a point size of less than 12 in some or all of their materials.

“As we get older, poor eyesight is par for the course,” said Stockhill. “Most charities we studied make it harder than ever to find out about leaving them a legacy by using point sizes and design styles that render their materials unreadable.

“We have identified three areas – making materials easy to read, promoting legacies effectively and customer service – as needing a lot of attention. As the legacies marketplace becomes increasingly tough, we simply cannot afford to ignore them.”

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