Celebrating Small Charity Week

18th-23rd June is Small Charity Week, and we wanted to use this opportunity to celebrate small charities and the amazing work they do and all that they achieve.

Small Charity Week is a campaign which was first established by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) in 2010 to celebrate and raise the profile of the small charity sector.

The week is organised as a series of activities and initiatives to support and raise awareness of the hundreds and thousands of small charities that, every day, make a huge difference to vulnerable communities right across the UK and the rest of the world.

Legacies are vital to small charities

Many of our members work for small charities, and for them the legacies they receive are crucial to the vital work they do. And of course working for smaller organisations can bring a range of unique challenges and opportunities.

In general, small charities can be more agile and build stronger, more personalised relationships with their supporters, which can be the perfect starting point for legacy fundraising.

However, smaller organisations also often face the challenge of not having dedicated staff to undertake the administration of estates. In a recent survey of our members, 73% stated they had a legacy team of less than five members – and in fact nearly 40% are in a legacy team of one – and often these staff members have to juggle a range of other roles too. The effect of this is that, although the estate will be administered, it’s unlikely that the impact will be truly optimised, and opportunities to build longer term relationships could be missed due to lack of time and/or resources.

Legacy administration is about so much more than ‘thanking and banking’, and without dedicated staff and strong internal teams, many smaller charities could be missing out on the wider opportunities legacy gifts present.

Mixing the practical and the emotional

Legacy fundraisers have to combine practicality with emotion – they know the detail of converting a gift into real income for the charity, which means they have to stay up to date with often complex legal and accountancy issues, but they also need to be able to communicate sensitively with family members who have lost a loved one. They also have to be good at championing their own cause, and negotiating the complex political landscapes of their organisations.

There is also the challenge that many legacy teams face of making sure that other staff within their organisation understand and appreciate all the work they do. Our members sometimes lack the support of senior leaders within their organisation. But it could be that smaller charities have another advantage here, as it can be more of a challenge within a larger organisation to get your voice heard.

Keeping up with changes

With so many changes in regulations, it can be a real struggle for smaller charities  to access the support and information they need in order to fully understand their responsibilities when it comes to managing legacies. Here at ILM, we do all we can to support our members, from both large and small organisations, to access the support and training they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. We have recently revamped our training programme to make sure that the full spectrum of skills can be learnt, covering the emotional and personal as well as more technical aspects.

However we do realise that paid-for training or memberships can be out of reach for some smaller charities. Mindful of this, our Good Practice Guidance, which was launched last year, is free for anyone to access on our website here.

We hope that this range of guidance and support that we offer both members and non-members can help ensure every generous donor’s legacy gift achieves its greatest potential.

Find out more about Small Charity Week here