Why is innovation important in legacy giving?

There was a clear theme of innovation in legacy fundraising running through the IoF's 2013 legacy conference, says Claire Routley

Claire Routley
Claire Routley

Those outside the world of legacy fundraising might be surprised to see legacies and innovation mentioned in the same sentence. But there are several reasons why innovation is so important to legacy fundraising.

From the NSPCC’s amazing Chelsea garden to the latest insights from real-life will-making situations, the IoF has assembled a conference that showcases much that is new in the world of legacies. 

With its dry legal language and depressing talk of death, legacy fundraising is surely one of the fundraising disciplines where the principles of innovation is least applicable? Wrong. In fact, I would argue, legacy fundraising is the discipline with the most scope for innovation.

There are several reasons why innovation is so important to legacy fundraising: 

Legacy giving is one area of fundraising that offers significant potential for growth – if we can ask for legacies in the right way. Legacy Foresight has predicted that between now and 2050 the legacy market will have more than doubled in size, while Remember A Charity has shown the potential of increasing the proportion of people who choose to give in this way. 

The academic study of legacy giving is offering fundraisers fascinating new insights into their donors’ motivations. Professor Russell James from Texas Tech University has used FMRI scanning to look at what is going on inside donors’ brains when they make legacy gifts. His work shows that lifetime and legacy giving decisions are fundamentally different, and therefore that fundraisers need to adapt their practice to the unique nature of legacy giving. 

Much of the growth in the legacy marketplace will be driven by the baby boomer generation. While the debate about how different boomers will be from their parents in terms of their legacy giving continues, there is little doubt that legacy fundraisers will see changes in their core supporter base, by virtue of boomers’ differing life experiences and expectations – and, therefore, that fundraisers will need to be prepared to innovate in order to meet the needs of this generation. 

More and more organisations are waking up to the potential of legacy giving, from hospitals to universities to museums to schools. Increasing competition in the market suggests that innovation – standing out from the crowd – will be key to future success.

This article appears on a page edited by the Institute of Fundraising and hosted by ThirdSector.co.uk

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