Meet a member: Marcia Lynn Dover, National Trust

March 24, 2017

Meet a member: Marcia Lynn Dover, National Trust

We speak to Marcia about her time at the National Trust…

Please tell us your name, job title, charity and how long you have worked there…

Marcia Lynn Dover (but outside work I am Mrs Marcia Prince!), and I’m Head of Legacy Administration for National Trust.  I have been working at National Trust in legacies for over 15 years.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got into legacy administration

I am originally from South Carolina, and emigrated to the UK in 1988.  I qualified as a solicitor here and worked in the City of London in private client practice – wills, probate, family law.  I loved working with charity beneficiaries while in private practice.  When I was looking to move to another firm, an agency sent me the job profile to head up the legacy team at NT because she thought it was a great fit.  Fifteen years in post proves she was right!

What advice do you wish you had been given when you started out in the legacy world?

Charity Senior Management do not always respond as expected to evidence and facts, often giving undue weight to unexpected factors.  If I had known this, I would have taken time to learn more about the individuals involved and changed my approach to presenting business cases in that first year or so.

OK, this going to sound corny, but it really is the truth.  Good advice that I did get was to join ILM.  As I had been a probate solicitor, I had a good idea of the legal framework, but quickly found that I needed support and advice on how other charities did things – delegation, decision making, best practice etc.  I will always be grateful for counterparts at other charities who were generous with their time in those first few months.  One of them recommended joining ILM for the network and the technical resources available.  I found much of the information I needed and had a wide network with wide range of experience to call on for help.   

What has been your most challenging case to date, and your biggest professional achievement?

The biggest (and most challenging) case – two months after joining NT, we received notification of a gift which shared the residue with three other charities (only one other charity beneficiary had experienced legacy administration staff).  The estate was worth over £25m and mostly comprised of properties in a small area so we had to take a long term view and sold houses over a number of years.  The challenging part was careful relationship management of relations between the charities, as well as the relationship between the charity beneficiaries and the executors during the long administration period.

My biggest professional achievement was moving legacies to the heart of National Trust thinking.  When I joined, there was little or no recognition of the relationship between legacy promotion and legacy income (I think many charities suffer with this!), and little idea of what Legacy Administration did.  Our senior management now has a much better understanding of Legacy Administration.  In 2013, I submitted a business case for significant investment in legacy promotion and planned growth in the Legacy Administration team, which was approved.  We also got Executive support to make legacy promotion an organisational priority alongside membership.  While I was the driving force behind it, I could not have done this without the whole Legacy Admin team and all the other internal advocates who helped create the business case and sell it to anyone who would listen!

What do you do to relax?

My husband and I go walking every chance we get.  We have a favourite walk close to home (and look forward to the spring so we can get out into the countryside most evenings after work!).  We also like to visit new places so we have lots of day trips/weekends away in the UK and take a couple of trips abroad each year.

How has ILM supported you in your career?

The network has been the most important part.  It is so helpful talking with colleagues who have dealt with a similar situation to find out what they did (and how it worked out).  I have also found the guidance and notes on the website helpful.  I have often attached an ILM document to a business case or briefing note to show the view across the sector.

If you could change one thing about the legacy management sector what would it be?

I think the change is already happening – injecting more sensitivity and personalisation into our technical skills.  There have been a few of us saying for many years that of course we need to ask for information from executors, but it is how we ask for it that makes the difference.  When we get the relationship management right, it makes it easier to raise and resolve issues as they arise.  When we get it wrong, we not only damage our own charity’s reputation, but we also damage the sector as a whole. There has been a lot of good work across the sector and with the Good Practice Guide, I think we all will continue to improve.


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