Where is legacy fundraising going?

Published by Richard Radcliffe on

108 people die every minute

That means during the IFC (if it is a typical three days) that 466,560 people will die. I hope I am not one of them. I also hope you are not one of them either – it would be good to debate this subject with you!

I know where legacies are coming from: people who die and very generously leave a gift in their Will to their favourite charity /NGO.

The problem we have is that philanthropic traditions in each country are different. Russians, Poles, Nigerians and Chinese people are not as advanced in Philanthropy compared to Americans, Canadians, Australians, Brits, New Zealanders or Dutch. The picture is complicated by the fact that each culture, tradition and religion has different philanthropic histories and, sometimes, policies or guidelines.

Also, each country has very specific inheritance laws which generally are perceived to give (the wrong) impression that a Will is just not necessary.

Generally you cannot leave a legacy without having a Will.

Even specific parts of the world have different Will making traditions: countries in Eastern Europe have 3-7 different ways of writing or speaking a Will.

So legacy giving could be driven by philanthropic environments and testamentary tradition based on inheritance law. Are you bored yet? Or fascinated like me?

globeOne fact is for sure: in spite of the above complications we know that the number of people in the world aged over 65 is currently 500,000,000 but by 2050 it will be 1,500,000,000. Now this statistic is bad because in any countries you are lucky to get to 65. (As we will discover when I and my co-presenter Martina Hallin speak at the IFC every single statistic about legacies is virtually useless even dangerous and misleading)

At the same time the number of worldwide deaths will increase from 57 million to 89 million. To bring that into focus that is 731,500 during the 2050 International Fundraising Congress. I doubt I will be present (!) but I might just be alive (I will be 96). Mind you my brain, let alone my body, might be in a hell of a state! By then I will have forgotten if I have a Will or if I have put a legacy in it.

Are you beginning to realise I know where legacies come from but perhaps do not have a clue as to where they are going.

As I sit in yet another departure lounge (that is not the place I am going to die – it is in an airport!) and review those I met in yet another country there is no doubt that I leave with enormous optimism for the future of legacy giving.

In my view (and with little hard evidence) there is a tidal wave of enthusiasm in MOST countries to develop this source of income which at the time of action is totally cash free and therefore perfect for older people.

If I was a mathematician (I failed my maths exam four times) there could be a really interesting equation based on: philanthropic traditions + culture + inheritance laws = potential for legacy giving.

But the equation is deeper than that because everything is changing:

  • Patterns of divorce, cohabiting, marriage, living alone and civil partnership are leading to more Wills being made
  • Most couples now make independent decisions on charitable legacies. If used to be the female
  • There is a massive drop in the “typical” family. There is no typical family – the majority are split to one degree of another which seems to be resulting in more contested Wills because of unhappy children/relatives.
  • Costs of ageing can be horrible. It all depends on how much the national government contributes (or does not).
  • For the first time I can remember High Net Worth Individuals are some of the best prospects ever. In the past they were not.
  • Finally tax laws/benefits are changing

So now we have the following equation:

futuresignPhilanthropic traditions + culture + inheritance laws + lifestyle + independence + family structure + gender + ageing costs + wealth + tax savings = potential for legacy giving

Oh hell.

And all this typifies why we get things wrong in legacy marketing – this is how PROSPECTS see legacy giving. It sounds SO complicated! In fact legacy giving is as easy as a donation.

So the focus of the session at the IFC will be simple: how do we get the message across to make it happen?

Should we focus on shifting attitudes or should we focus on the call to action or both? And finally how do we convince Boards to invest in legacies? Well, since I started writing this blog 180,000 people have died. Bloody hell GET ON WITH IT.

IFC-2015-logoThis post is part of the 2015 IFC Series. 101fundraising is proud to be the blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress for the 4th year!

More information about Richard’s session at the IFC can be found here.

Richard Radcliffe

Richard Radcliffe is founder of Radcliffe Consulting, which helps charities to get more legacies. He is author of “Why legacies are brilliant for charities and how to get them,” recently published by Smee & Ford. He has almost 30 years’ experience in legacy fundraising and works across our globe.

1 Comment

Fundraising Friday | July 24, 2015 | Pamela Grow · July 24, 2015 at 12:59

[…] focus on shifting attitudes or should we focus on the call to action or both? Richard Radcliffe on Where is legacy fundraising going? 101 […]

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