Remember a Charity


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.



To make a change in legacies we need the right culture and the right leadership to make it happen. It’s about us personally but also our teams and our organisations working together.

Over the next week, I will be speaking across Australia in 5 cities in 5 days about legacies and legacy leadership to charities, NGO’s, fundraising directors, fundraisers and legacy specialists. I’m really pleased to be the guest of Include a charity – the Australian campaign to promote gifts in wills. Australia, like the UK and many other countries faces a similar challenge. Many people give to charity, but fewer leave a gift in their will but say they would consider it when asked. It’s why campaigns are so important. It’s why campaigns are leadership. It’s the difference.

The UK’s Remember A Charity campaign has made huge strides and has now built up a bank of knowledge and experience over the last 14 years. I was privileged to be the campaigns chair for 4 years and looking back its clear that what we thought was the case, is now showing in evidence. Much has changed. Legacy conversations, normalising, social media, partnerships, behaviour change at the heart and real insight and evidence. But at its heart has been consistency with innovation. Legacies are an emotional decision backed by rationale action. Understanding where the donors is comes first. Partnering to lever impact drives scale. Cut through from edge and campaigns where people get to talk about it

This week, apart from spending time with Include a Charity members and helping them make more of their legacy programmes, I will get a chance to speak to those who currently aren’t members or are interested in finding out more. With them I will be sharing ways to show organisational leadership by leading legacies and legacy cultures in their own charities. I have 7 pillars from my experience that I believe show the way to become a legacy leader. Over the next 7 days I will share an explanation of each pillar in my blog.

If you’d like to become a legacy leader in your organisation or want to share your thoughts drop me an email.

So. 5 days. 5 cities – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney. You can follow on Twitter and Facebook at ….or through my blog.

Enjoy the ride.


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.


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?


Procrastination. A lovely word and something I naturally practice myself. Someone sent me a book on procrastination and how to deal with it. I will read it soon. Promise.

There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do in the morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Brian Tracy, uses this metaphor in the book Eat That Frog, challenging you to do the one thing you probably most procrastinate over, but that could have the greatest impact for you.  The remarkable Rob Woods uses it in his brilliant training. On a daily basis we try our best to achieve our goals but the tide of stuff is often overwhelming. Not surprising the longer term suffers for the here and now.

It’s the same with legacies. According to Remember a Charity, while 74% of the UK population support charities, only 7% currently leave a legacy to them. Income is seen as long-term and given the need for cash today,  you can sometimes understand the way that legacies don’t get the attention they deserve. Too difficult, almost like eating a live frog. That is a mistake. Simple, daily, gentle actions can have a massive impact. Patience, insight and quiet determination drive a longer term process of consideration. Like a garden. Deliberately invest in it and remarkably, people will come.

Today, it really is time to stop putting off legacies. Make tomorrow happen today. Eat the very tasty legacy frog and you wont look back.

30th-BirthdayThe institute of Fundraising is celebrating its 30th birthday at its annual Convention. It’s an opportunity to reflect and celebrate how far we have come in british fundraising. But equally its a time to step up and shape the next 30 years.

A lot has changed since 1983 as the BBC reflected as it celebrated 30 years of Breakfast TV. The march of technology, the growth in wealth & living standards, the flourishing of enterprise and choice all can’t hide the urgency and need that exists around our world. Fundraising has organised, learnt, innovated, raised standards, learnt new skills, attracted new people, reached new audiences and over that time has transformed the world. The donor, the fundraiser and the beneficiary. It continues to do so.

It’s good to know we belong to something that transforms. As we look back on our achievements and the hills we have climbed together, its sometimes good to remember through the small steps, the single personal memories, the inconsequential, the quirky. When we look back at our life events we often see them through a soundtrack, a joke, a funny story, a tear, a photo. They provide a window on the roundness of our achievements, our failures, our regrets. The whole can sometimes be seen through the small – and when joined up, shows the richness we may have forgotten.

I became a fundraiser on June 2nd 1983. So it’s 30 years for me too. I joined the IOF that very same year, thrilled at the prospect of belonging and making better, of learning. If there was one big influence on me, it was the institute, the annual convention, the sharing. As I look back over that time, I thought about an overwhelming treasure chest of memories, the good and bad, the success and the failure, the donors, the colleagues, the people who needed us, achievement, regret, fun and heart touching moments of overwhelming inspiration, passion, love and joy. So, for my 30 year reflection, as the Institute celebrates 30 years, here are my 30 memories from 1983 to now. There are millions more than this of course, but its a list that shows that it’s the mix that makes the magic for me. Big and small, sad and happy, funny and moving. Here goes….

  1. Watching Live Aid and being overwhelmed by the video with the Cars soundtrack– then watching Bob Geldof shout at us to give
  2. Collecting a reel of film in a cardboard box at a talk at Luton Ladies Circle because I forgot the other reel – pre video….I know…(your age may make this memory pointless)
  3. Starting a Friday Fax to share success in the week – cutting edge (do you remember when you first saw a fax come through?…again, your age may make this memory pointless)
  4. Watching Giles Pegram speak at a staff conference and swelling with pride – really getting what fundraising was about and for, and never ever forgetting his clarity, passion, determination and courage
  5. Collecting a cheque for a million pounds – and for much less of course
  6. Spraying corporate sponsors at a reception with a rampant bottle of champagne I had opened wrongly and had then inexplicably placed my fingers over the top….slow motion playback…I hit most of them as well
  7. Blisters on my fingers blowing up white balloons for a national balloon race, only to have the balloons bounce across a field and in to the woods
  8. Being told off by the Duke of York at a Regional Appeal Board meeting during the Full Stop Appeal
  9. Laying down on a road after the party with the UNICEF team at the convention in Warwick University campus
  10. My first IOF presentation on Regional Fundraising done with slides on a carousel
  11. Speaking at a branch meeting in Devon where I got locked in the loo just before I spoke and in 90 degrees of heat….sauna in a suit…
  12. Seeing growing babies being weighed on a set of scales bought by UNICEF in a clinic full of beautiful children and smiling mothers in a village in Indonesia
  13. Being secretly tape recorded by angry volunteers in Northern Ireland when I tried to close a shop that was losing money (they sent the tape to the UN….) Also had a petition sent to the Queen once but that’s another story….
  14. Celebrating an IPA Effectiveness award for Remember a Charity – and watching our first humour led TV ad appear live on TV
  15. My leaving party with the Legacy team at the NSPCC….best send off in my life and the most love in a room ever
  16. Sitting in a cafe pouring a little confidence into a fundraising talent that had lost their way – a lot of the best work was done in cafe’s in one to ones, just talking, dreaming, deciding
  17. Hearing the phrase from an upset volunteer “you come up here in your Saville row suit”…Marks & Spencer’s actually…it was a head office thing that was all,
  18. Picking up coins and cash in my car in post offices in rural Cambridgeshire from the annual house to house collection, listening to the radio – with no mobile phones either
  19. Taking the last beer out of the last vending machine at 4.30am at IFC and being with the last few left before breakfast
  20. Hearing Marion Wright Edelman at my first AFP in San Diego talking about children – profoundly moving
  21. Walking in Southwold, looking at the inspiring plaques on the rail on the pier and suddenly getting the magic of legacies and what I could do about it – a big turning point
  22. Being told by Henry Drucker in a lift after a solicitation meeting, that I wasnt mad, to stick to my guns and to believe in myself
  23. Finding and hiring some amazing people (and sadly having to lose some but hopefully always with kindness)
  24. Seeing a donor tell a board of very high value people about her abuse as a child
  25. Sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea at Maggie’s in Edinburgh on my first week and listening to Angus tell me about getting cancer and why his life was transformed by visiting Maggie’s
  26. Doing a TV interview about Jade Goody at the London Marathon in the rain in a hastily found but far too small branded sweatshirt – looked like a telly tubby in a pond
  27. Discovering that you can illustrate every plan, strategy and approach using a triangle
  28. Experiencing a ghost in an office late one evening while completing a mailing, and running out the door without locking up
  29. Convention bars and dance floors….obviously best not to go there really, but always a life affirming joy
  30. Watching an AGM erupt with emotion when they voted to change the name of The Spastics Society to Scope

I have many more. So do you. Don’t forget them.

<> on April 15, 2013 in London, England.The national funeral of Baroness Thatcher (whatever your view) – a spectacular experience of remembrance, theatre and private reflection.

Planned with the complicated combination of state protocol and private wishes, Baroness Thatcher’s funeral displays the difficult balance between the expected ritual and show for all and the family space for grief, words, music and faith. The death and funeral of a public figure however is, in truth, no different from the death and funeral of a private citizen – just the scale maybe, perhaps the complexity and variety, the diversity. Some people die without anyone left or anyone remembering them. Some people die with the whole world remembering them.

Albert Vaughan, a Second World War veteran with 12 years of service as a marine and with 6 medals to his name, died in a care home in Tamworth. Albert had outlived his children and care workers were concerned that only 6 people would attend his funeral. So, they launched a Facebook campaign. The response was extraordinary. Hundreds attended including military veterans who carried his coffin.

The contrast between each of these funerals appears stark, but each shares more than divides them. Loneliness and isolation exist for public figures, just as forgotten achievements are not isolated to the private forgotten soldier. What binds them together is the need to be remembered, the need to have some respect and space, some ritual, some forgiveness, some thanks for a life lived, some acknowledgement, some way of passing on.

We shy away from planning ahead. But for those that do, the rest of us can perhaps admire their foresight. So, why not plan your own state funeral? You can have whatever you want. 21 gun salute? Horse drawn carriage? TV coverage? Or perhaps something a little more modest to commit to before we disappear like Mrs Thatcher or Albert Vaughan.

Here’s a starter list then (because I will forget to do it like everyone else)…..I would like….

  1. Enough people to attend who on balance think I was a good guy rather than a bad one
  2. That what I did in life wont hurt anyone in death
  3. My music choices make people smile – Young Hearts, Run Free…
  4. Some room for sadness as well as celebration – but mostly celebration
  5. People to walk away after and think ‘right, that’s made me think, better get on with that now, not much time left’
  6. To have left enough money behind the bar for afterwards so everyone needs to get a taxi home
  7. People I love to be looked after
  8. Spirit, solemnity and faith to be balanced by jokes and humour
  9. Some nice words but some nice deeds to follow – including loads of cash raised for charity, a gift in my will, and definitely no flowers
  10. My net end of life outcome would be better than if I hadn’t been around – and finally…….that the funeral procession is 15 minutes late….I always was in life …

And your’s…?

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