Legacies are a conversation – not a hard sell…

‘Feet on the ground – soul in the sky’ said Virginia McKenna at the beginning of Remember a Charity’s awareness week. A perfect description of the yin and yang of gifts in wills.

Her description, spoken on the radio and from the heart perfectly describes the task of helping people understand and act on the practicalities of legacy giving and the aspiration that you can leave a lasting impact and essence of yourself through a gift in your will. Virginia and Jenny Agutter were just two of the celebrities who were helping spread the message. Speaking to millions of people though the conversational medium of radio, the subject was explored across 20 + radio stations.

Virginia McKenna and Jenny Agutter spread the legacy word

This approach began with a conversation with supporters, donors and the public. Then with all of the 140 plus charity members of Remember a Charity. The members in turn talked to their own organisations and their supporters and outwards to the public. The campaign talked to the public, the press, the sector. It created something to share and talk about – the Legacy through the Lens photo exhibition at the Oxo Tower,  a unique collection of the ‘soul in the sky’ aspiration that a gift in your will is about. Real stories of real people and the difference to be made. The Daily Telegraph produced a supplement on the campaign. Members used the pictures and stories to talk to their supporters, added them to their websites, and shared through social media. Charity shops had their windows decorated. And a special Remember a Charity tea was used to spark a legacy conversation through the simple act of sharing a cup of tea. Here’s a great example.

Andrew Flanagan, CEO at the NSPCC takes part in the NSPCC's legacy campaign

Social marketing campaigns like this are difficult to measure at the best of times. And to measure a long-term legacy is even harder. But I believe there is the right balance in place – the yin and yang. I am especially pleased to see the campaign in the 38 shortlisted for an IPA Effectiveness award which is a major step in finding a way to prove impact and be recognised for it. One things for sure though….this is not a hard sell with instant results. Its patient, insightful, and conversational. An awareness week is part of the mix and the we can’t count every conversation. But we can be confident and indeed proud that we are making real progress.

Of course we will keep our ‘feet on the ground’ and get evidence, numbers, measure results and impact and ensure we get value for money. But our business is the ‘soul in the sky’. So if you are at the hard sell end of marketing, then frankly, when it comes to legacies you are in the wrong business.

The sooner we all get this, the more likely we are to engage in the conversation that will make all the difference for donors, charities and the causes we care about.

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