Legacy donors 'seen as egotistical'

Charities should not use testimonies from supporters who have left legacies on their legacy fundraising materials, according to Richard Radcliffe, executive chairman of charitable legacy agency Smee & Ford.

“People who have already pledged to leave legacies are seen by others as self-satisfied and as having big egos,” Radcliffe told delegates at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands last week.

Volunteers are also a huge turn off to would-be legacy-leavers because they are seen as too good to be true and do not influence future donors, Radcliffe said.

Celebrities are not believable either, he warned. “They are seen as people who have words put into their mouths that aren’t their own,” he said.

Instead, charities should use quotes and stories from people who carry out charities’ objectives – for example, doctors and nurses. “These people are the most believable,” said Radcliffe. “Their story makes people read the information and think ‘I must do something’.”

Other people who could tell the story include financial advisers, patrons, board members, other staff members and beneficiaries and their next of kin.

Radcliffe has held 800 legacy focus groups for more than 200 charitable organisations. He also develops legacy marketing plans and trains people to ask for legacies.

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