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."
FOX'S SIX-POINT PLAN
- 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