Are we giving legacies the investment they need and deserve?

February 6, 2018

Ashley Rowthorne from Legacy Link asks if we are properly prepared for the growth in legacy giving…

Legacy giving has been growing strongly in the UK over the last few years. In fact it is a real success story in what has been a very challenging environment for the fundraising sector as a whole.

The reason legacy giving is growing is multifaceted. But a significant factor driving growth is that we are being introduced to a new generation of legacy donors in the Baby Boomers, who are leaving more gifts to more charities in their Wills than we have ever seen before. And we know this trend is here to stay, for the foreseeable future at least.

In fact, over the coming decades, we are poised to experience the largest generational transfer of wealth in history.

Welcome news for charities

This is no doubt welcome news to the charities who are fortunate enough to receive such generosity, and who rely on legacy gifts for a significant portion of their income. But growth is also happening at the grassroots, and legacy gifts are no longer just for the lucky few. We are seeing growth in the Arts, Education, Environment and International Development sectors, in local charities as well as the traditional large legacy charities of the past.

But the good news of all this growth does present its own challenges.

One of the reasons many successful companies fail, is because growth happens too quickly – they are not prepared and able to sustain themselves when the demand begins to rise.

And if we are not prepared properly, there is a risk that the growth that we are so fortunate to be experiencing in legacy giving, could end up putting our sector under strain.

Lack of resource

In a survey by Penningtons Manches in 2017, 44% of managers responsible for their charity’s legacy income said their biggest challenge was lack of resource – with the right level of qualified and experience staff being the biggest and most valuable resource available to them.

The recent Legacy Salary, Rewards & Retention Survey from the ILM and TPP does show that the sector is responding, with over a third of charities increasing the size of their legacy teams in the last year. This is important, and something we need to ensure continues to happen and with the right level of resource and investment.

When a person decides to leave a gift to charity in their will, they put their trust in the charity to make sure they take care of it and put it to good use. And that task falls to the legacy officer, who needs to be properly trained, experienced and supported to achieve the best outcome for the legacy donor, and the cause they cared about.

Bursary award

At Legacy Link, we believe the professional standards we, as legacy officers, set ourselves is of paramount importance. It is why we ensure all our consultants have invested in obtaining a professional qualification, and continue to challenge and develop themselves.

And we are committed to working together as a sector to raise our standards to be the best legacy officers we can be, so we can achieve the best outcomes for our donors now, and for the many donors that will put their trust in us in the future.

Which is why we are pleased to announce that we are funding two new legacy officers through the ILM Certificate in Charity Legacy Administration, through the Crispin Ellison Bursary Award 2018. Applications for the award are now closed and the winners will be announced at the ILM Conference on 11th May.

If we are to fulfil our obligation and steward the generosity of our legacy donors effectively, it is essential we give it the resource it needs and deserves. We hope the bursary will play a small part in doing just that.

By Ashley Rowthorn


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