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When Remember a Charity was born, the founders took a leap of faith. With no immediate return they could see that working together, there was a chance that a campaign might just be able to grow the market in the future. Looking back we should applaud them – because that is exactly what they have done. And more. And not just in the UK.

Remember A Charity has evolved in that time. Honing a model and approach that has embraced behaviour change or social marketing, the campaign blends consumer campaigns with leverage through partnerships and uses its member base to amplify and engage. The campaign returns this month with Remember a Charity in your Will Week from the 12th-18th September. The campaign will call on the British public to pass on something legendary, tweeting their advice for future generations at #MyWisdom and remembering a charity in their Will. 2016 marks the seventh year of Remember A Charity’s legacy giving week, during which charities, Government, solicitors and Will-writers will all come together to encourage the public to leave a gift to charity in their Will.

The bottom line is that more people are actually doing it. From 12% in 2007 to 17% in 2014 and a further increase this last year as the campaign has just reported. This is the sort of news that every member of the campaign throughout the last 14 years should take a moment to reflect on and celebrate. Momentum brings further momentum. I am writing this, just finishing a week in Australia speaking to brilliant legacy fundraisers through the Australian campaign Include a charity. They are making real progress too. Last week I spoke with a revised Dutch campaign about a new phase in their journey. And as a former Remember a Charity chairman and now working globally with charities on legacies, there are a number of countries with new campaigns and each are taking key steps to start to change behaviour and increase the number of gifts in wills in their countries.

Baby boomers are estimated to be worth $46 trillion USD of wealth and over the next 30 years or so will hand on this wealth to a new generation. Charities everywhere have a strong case to give these generous people who have given to charity in life the chance to leave something after they have gone. This is not a leap of faith anymore. Its a global movement. So don’t forget to take part in the campaign. #MyWisdom awaits your wisdom and your contribution.

Remember a Charity now has its own legacy. We all join charities to change the world. And this campaign might just do exactly that.

 

listening

There is an essential logic in fundraising. Hearts, minds and cash. The mantra for this is no gift is made without emotion to drive it.  The moment you connect. A close spark or bond created. This remains true above all with legacy gifts. But we often focus on function first – wills, probate, tax. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we don’t  understand. Maybe we don’t know. Either way it’s not where transformational legacy gifts sit and it’s not where donors start.  Here’s 10 emotional connections for legacy fundraising to get you connecting

  1. Find your founder story and relive it though the eyes of your founders
  2. Systematically collect and share stories
  3. Recognise long-term consideration of a gift will start with an emotional connection
  4. Understand the motivation for giving is emotional and won’t always be remembered
  5. Teach your organisation to be able to have a legacy conversation as you would to a trusted friend
  6. Show the work and the inspirational transformation made by legacy gifts
  7. Join up legacy admin so its part of the gift process and joy of giving
  8. Do everything possible to make face to face happen
  9. Reassure donors about their fears and barriers – soothe them
  10. Find and use your own personal connection to legacies

So – uncover the emotion, dig deep, be brave, open your hearts – but above all, connect.

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At the heart of every legacy gift is always a story. It’s a currency that runs strong and is rarely devalued. Sometimes visible, most often not. Sometimes shared, sometimes celebrated. But most, if we are honest are forgotten, if found at all.

Presenting on legacy strategy recently, I focused on the power of story. One questioner from the floor, asked what was needed to find stories. How can you collect and where from? I told her that they are all around and we just need to be mindful and then ask the question. Look to your donors, executors, volunteers, programme staff, founders and fundraising staff. Ask them, train them and give yourself a place where you collect and share.

Later in the day, the very brilliant Michael Clark from Cystic Fibrosis Trust, was talking about why gifts can come from people you don’t know or have never met and that for them they had a connection we will often never know. He talked of a very large gift from a man who was not known to them but on his death he had shared his reasons for the gift in his will.

One day he was sitting in a park and watching the world go by on a break when his peace was disturbed by a young child whose cough was loud, consistent and disturbing to him. He asked the mother if the child was alright. The mother told him her son has Cystic Fibrosis and this was level of coughing was normal and daily. She thanked him for asking and disappeared from his life. A moment he never forgot. And from that a legacy gift and from that a legacy story.

There is no marketing involved here, except the moment when that donor sought out the charity as the means to make the gift. It was a human moment that germinated for a long time. A human moment driven by a story and connection.

Stories and connections are our currency.  How much better would we be if we were just able to ask, listen and share?

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After much soul-searching in the fundraising sector in the last few months, and much anguish about the future and direction of travel, I have compiled a powerful list of 10 ‘saviours’ for fundraising and the sector.

If done together and with heart, values, principles, stories, creativity, service and care, insight, humility and solid process to back it up and the cause and need as the engine the results could be amazing. Please share – they are groundbreaking and revolutionary. Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Put the donor first
  2. Put the donor first
  3. Put the donor first
  4. Put the donor first
  5. Put the donor first
  6. Put the donor first
  7. Put the donor first
  8. Put the donor first
  9. Put the donor first
  10. Lead everyone and everything so they put the donor first

I know. Exciting stuff. Truly – we are saved.

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Fathers Day. A moment to reflect on being and having a dad. A complex thing, boiled to a simple notion on a single day. But for all the love and reflection spare a though for the lost fathers, a breed somewhere else from the Facebook posts of admiration of fatherly love.

A father never sets out to get it wrong. On the contrary, they are usually full of optimism and hope, believing that all before them was a temporary thing and that this is their moment to correct, to look forward, to be a better man. My dad was and is a good man and father. I believe I am a good man and father. But for many and those whose expectations were never realised, there is a truth made more real than ever on a day like this, that they didn’t make it. For others looking at the father they knew or know, there is an equal truth that they remain without the beacon they needed or wanted. A lost father and lost children.

Spare a thought for them. The man who started with hope but became overwhelmed by expectation. The man who had no blueprint or map because he too was denied the father for him, the boy. The man who never shared or talked or cried because he couldn’t, without the language to express or the courage to open. The man who focussed on his work at the expense of his family, because it was easier. The man who tried to show his love but failed. The man whose anger was a mystery to him, yet lived with him all the time. The man who chose the wrong turn, who loved the wrong person, who fought the wrong battle, who missed the right thing at every turn. The man who wanted to be better but never was. The man without the father in him who meant he could not be the father in them.

No one sets out like this. Some are damaged. Some are empty. Some are vain. Some are not very bright. Some are just bad. But there is a tribe of lost fathers, some thinking about that today and for some a thought that may never occur to them as they remain in ignorance. For others they will look at their father and wish they had the unconditional, kind, wise, sturdy but open anchor, honest, funny, emotional and guiding light that other have or had. Lost fathers affect us all. So spare a thought today of all days.

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Bruce Forsyth is retiring from Strictly Come Dancing. When interviewed, Karen Hardy the dance partner of Mark Ramprakash who won in 2006 told a story of how they had a wardrobe malfunction on air, resulting in the dance being completed ruined. Bruce ran on to the floor, sweeping up a random partner to dance with, and to everyone’s amusement and relief kept the show going.

In the dressing room afterwards, Karen and Marc went to apologise to Bruce. They felt they had let everyone down including him. He was surprised and then turned to them and looking them in the eye he said “But Karen…..those are the moments I live for”. Nice.

Maybe it takes insight from age or experience or a conscious nudge from outside, but its a special place to get to when you can connect with the moments you live for. They are not always obvious. They dont’ happen every day. They may be in the work you do, or the life you lead or hopefully both. They may not be earth shattering like discovering a planet, but whatever they are, they are a cherry on the top. A moment to savour and satisfy.

Can we connect with our moments to live for? The simple things – a smile from your child on their first day at school, a hot cross bun and a cup of tea from your nana on a monday morning, an ‘I love you’ from your special one. Or a thing discovered, made, fixed or built, or the delivery of a result or outcome you made happen. Or the climbing of a mountain or river crossed or challenge achieved. Or the place visited, the beer in foreign bars, the coffee in the streets of Florence, the crescendo of a concert or chorus, the eyes in a portrait that are looking at only you. Or is it the roar of a crowd when you perform, a moment of public inspiration and insight when you make someone connect or a private breakthrough when someone is better because of what you did right there, right then.

I know you all have moments to live for – it’s just I’m not sure we all know honestly what they are. If we did, if we knew, wouldn’t we find more…wouldn’t we?

As Bruce would say ….”Nice to see you…to see you nice……”

When my grandmother died, I think I missed her spirit the most. There is something that is empty when a guiding light leaves you. Someone you have known all your life.

She led a simple, lonely life, despite having us around her. I knew about some of that life. The loss of my grandfather in his 50’s, her grief forever after, her childhood memories, being at the seaside  when the First World War broke out, working in a factory and a pub. Her blue bike with a basket she used, to go to the shops. The tins she hid to save for the electric or the rent. Her friend the TV in the corner of her council flat. I used to visit her after school or on my paper round. Every time, she greeted me like a first time, a warmth, an exclamation. She looked after me when my parents went out. She let me eat a whole packet of cheddars once and didn’t tell me off when I was sick. She would shine in front of me. Absolutely shine.

She was never in prison, never led a people or a country. Never got involved in politics or a movement. She never drew much attention to herself. She served, did her duty, loved her family. An ordinary life. So why do I think about my grandmother, when one of the great world leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela leaves us?

Because we have lost a light – a guiding, comforting spirit. An anchor and a beacon. A safe, calm and wise port, where gravitas, kindness, forgiveness and humility lives.  A rock to hang on to. Pure inspiration to float in. Leaders in their own way, who in life did their duty on earth. My grandmother and Nelson Mandela.

They met today.
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