The Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust has launched a legacy request campaign with a difference: every time someone puts the trust in their will, benefactors will be invited to plant a tree.
BBOWT hopes that people who pledge money will be less likely to change their minds if a tree is planted to mark the deed. "The tree will act as a prompt, reminding benefactors who may consider changing their wills that a commitment has been made," said Marc Middleton-Heath, managing director at Catalyst.
The campaign, which is the first legacy mailing that BBOWT has run in two years, was launched in January with a back page ad in the charity's monthly magazine Wildlife News. This was followed up in mid-March with a direct mail letter sent to targeted supporters.
The initiative is now two weeks old and has already proved successful.
"Initially we thought, based on sector averages, that we might be able to raise £250,000 of pledges. But we are easily surpassing our aims and already have 56 pledges," said Middleton-Heath.
The taster ad, which carried the message "It's not the size that counts, it's what it could grow into that matters", urged supporters to leave a lasting impression on the countryside by leaving a legacy to BBOWT.
The direct mail pack includes a letter from BBOWT president Julian Pettifer, a reply card and a pamphlet explaining how legacies have been used and profiling three endangered species.
The letter from Pettifer says the trust will work to protect rare and threatened species in the region, including orchids, butterflies, sand lizards and dormice.
The trust hopes to take advantage of a recent increase in membership figures by making the legacy initiative an ongoing concern. "We will send out letters once a year, targeting a different group of supporters each time," said Middleton-Heath.