Letters and calls - asking people for legacies the American way

Integrated direct marketing is the most effective way to encourage donors to include charities in their wills, delegates at the International Fundraising Congress in Holland were told.

Wills: an integrated approach is needed, says Fox
Wills: an integrated approach is needed, says Fox

At the conference last week, American fundraiser Rich Fox outlined his Legacy Leadership Programme - a strategy combining direct mail and telemarketing techniques designed to encourage donors to leave bequests.

The strategy targets current or lapsed donors - in particular, older people with no children - by sending a letter thanking them for their support and explaining the value of legacy donations. No request for money is made, but a form is enclosed allowing donors to choose to find out more or opt out.

The letter also says that those who don't return the form will receive a reminder call.

"You'd be amazed at the response if you tell people your organisation will call them if they don't reply," said Fox.

Donors who do commit themselves to leaving a donation in their wills should be sent a letter thanking them and including an official certificate and an explanation of legal terms, he said.

Three months after the thank-you letter, charities should make a further call to cement the relationship. "Donors are human beings - they want to feel special," said Fox. "If you give them recognition for what they have done and make them feel appreciated, you can't fail."

- Target current or lapsed donors
- Send a letter asking people to either opt in or opt out
- Follow up with a reminder phone call
- Send a thank-you letter to those who have committed
- Make a further call to people who have still not responded
- Make a call after three months has passed to cement the relationship
with the donor

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