Institute of Fundraising: We must translate legacy awareness into real action

Theresa Dauncey, the director of the Legacy Promotion Campaign

It is common knowledge that two of the key objectives of the Legacy Promotion Campaign are to drive awareness of legacies as a form of charitable giving and encourage people to take action by including their favourite charity or causes in their wills.

Since the Campaign was launched in 2002, awareness among the general public has been sustained at around 30 per cent. While we are delighted that this figure has remained constant, how can we ensure it translates into action?

Solicitors are key to achieving this goal - after all, they can advise clients face to face about the benefits of charitable donations at the time of will-writing. While the Campaign has targeted the legal and financial sectors from the outset, it has become increasingly apparent to us just how influential they can be as a group.

That is why we have spent the latter half of 2004 focusing our attention on this sector, working to increase the number of legal firms supporting the Campaign. We conducted research into the will writing market and developed the Good Will Test, which was promoted in our most recent media campaign.

The results have been phenomenal. Following a mailing to members of Step and the Law Society probate section, the number of firms signed up to the Campaign has more than doubled, with the current total standing at 600. This has already exceeded our target for 2006.

But the number of firms signing up is not the only indicator of success in this area of the Campaign. The latest research by Kadence among solicitors shows further positive signs that the legal sector is embracing the idea of mentioning charitable bequests to its clients.

We have seen the biggest changes in the largest law firms. When the Campaign launched in October 2002, one in five (19 per cent) of solicitors in large firms said they always mentioned charitable bequests to their clients.

In November 2004, this had increased to one in three (32 per cent). In addition, 45 per cent of solicitors were aware of the Campaign strapline - up from 25 per cent a year ago. Across the board, 42 per cent said they would include a charity in their own wills.

Next year's plans focus on consolidating this activity while continuing to target the general public to maintain and increase awareness. This includes providing an interactive service at to help people source charity-friendly solicitors.

Prompted by the increase in the Campaign's activities aimed at solicitors, we hope this will be converted into a further increase in charitable legacies.

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