“My ILM training helped me turn £5k into £85k”

June 28, 2024

As Trusts and Legacy Manager at The Fishermen’s Mission, Andy Perry spends around a third of his time managing and promoting legacies, both internally and externally.

Harnessing the benefits of a 25-year career in banking, followed by two decades working in the legacy field for a number of different charities, he is a keen advocate for the ILM, saying he finds its courses and networking opportunities “invaluable”.

Andy tells us more about his path into legacy management, the importance of treating supporters and donors as investors in a charity’s future, and how the ILM’s courses helped turn a small legacy into something much larger.

Andy Perry is pictured with a preserved fishing trawler on a visit to Grimsby.
Andy Perry is pictured with a preserved fishing trawler on a visit to Grimsby.

When I was made redundant from a high street bank, I realised I had transferable skills to take into a different sector. I had always been involved in doing things for other people, I was a school governor and on the PTA , I helped out at clubs when the children were younger…so I wanted to do something in my career that would make a difference.

I fell into the charity world slightly by accident, working part-time for a local community transport charity; then moved into legacies and trusts, mainly for hospices and a veteran’s charity, before moving in October 2022 to my current role.

The Fishermen’s Mission goes back to Victorian times and its role is to provide support to active and former fishermen and their families, including migrant fishermen from overseas who may be working on UK boats.

People come to us with a range of needs; financial support – for example to buy essential household appliances e.g. a cooker; other times it maybe that they are struggling with their mental health, something which sadly is incredibly common given the erratic and dangerous nature of the fishing industry.

Sometimes it’s more about pastoral or bereavement support, particularly where retired fishermen or their widows are lonely and want someone to chat to.

We also respond if there’s been an emergency at sea, we liaise with other agencies and support all those involved. It’s a very close-knit community and if a man has gone overboard, it affects everyone.

Meeting supporters

I split my time between home and office working and also love to travel around to see those fishing harbours that are still left and hear all the stories. It’s the lovely thing about the job, chatting over a coffee with people telling you that we were ‘there for them’ and made a difference – it’s always nice to meet the people you are supporting.

Typically, legacy income is around one third of our total income, so it’s hugely important in allowing the charity to deliver its essential services. As the sole legacy person, my time is split 70/30 between legacies (30%) and the remainder of my time on charitable trusts and foundations.

The legacy side covers administration, marketing, stewarding existing supporters who kindly support us in their will and internal engagement with colleagues and volunteers. The charity has around 65 people overall, both in head office and around the country, from the tip of Cornwall to Shetland, Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland, all on hand to support fishing communities.

I report to the business development director and in terms of the legacy voice being heard, I make sure the topic comes up at business development team meetings and senior management meetings who have been willing to invest in all aspects of legacies. I also report to trustee meetings about legacies.

Investment

It can be challenging to get investment in legacy marketing. I see that in a lot of online forums. In a previous hospice role, I managed to get the legacy investment increased quite substantially and I think what people need to do is really understand the market and the potential of legacies. They can then put a business case to the senior management team – and even as far as the trustees if it needs a significant income increase in budget.

With everything you see and read, there’s huge potential to increase legacy income in the next 30 years and charities need to invest now. Having a strong business case is integral, you have to identify people who have included a legacy in their wills and really look after them. Treat them as major donors/investors in the charity’s future, see them as individual supporters, not just part of the main cohort.

Legacy fundraising partially goes under the radar but events such as free will writing schemes, free wills months, Remember A Charity’s profile raising – all of those kind of things help to feed in to push legacies to the fore to a lot more.

I also think solicitors are better at talking to clients about it, asking if clients want to leave a charitable gift, while the ILM’s work with corporate partners is helping spread the message through to private client teams.

Overall, I think a lot of good work across the whole sector means legacy giving is more widely recognised now and a lot more charities do understand the longer-term benefits.

Staff guide

I am always talking to other staff – I’m particularly proud of an internal guide I produced for colleagues about the importance of legacies to the charity, how to talk about them externally and how to answer questions.

We have a newsletter that goes to supporters as well as staff and that covers legacies too, plus we have an annual staff conference, where I ran a session about legacies last year.

There are lots of ways to keep drip feeding legacies in. I know it can sometimes be difficult for charities to put legacies up there above mass fundraising events, but I think we’re a bit different, and it is possible to get the subject pushed up the ladder a bit.

I see this as more of a proactive than reactive role, I plan and prioritise the work. We launched a partnership with the National Free Wills Network in January – that was a first for me, I’d never done that before – and that has been great. We’ve been promoting it via the newsletter, social media and writing directly to our supporters.

We have four fundraisers around the country, plus our port staff, and they all give talks about the charity, part of which is how we are funded with gifts in wills and that’s an opportunity to mention the Free Wills Network.

We also offer the Free Wills Network to clients who we help. We don’t ‘plug’ legacy giving with them – they are there to receive support from us, not the other way round – but if they choose to support us by writing a free will and leaving a gift, that’s wonderful.

Gaining experience

I’ve always found the ILM invaluable, both for training and networking. When I first started in legacy administration, I undertook some of the two-day courses – I’ve been a member now for 10 years – and started speaking to other charities. I was using the ILM’s resources, kept my eyes and ears on the forums, webinars and events, anything I could get my hands on to gain experience.

Post Covid, having training courses delivered by the ILM and their corporate partners online is great because it makes them so much more accessible and cuts travel costs and time, and these have really helped to build my knowledge.

For example, while many legacies are fairly straightforward, some are more challenging. On a day-to-day basis, the two biggest areas are legacies where there are exempt and non-exempt beneficiaries; and secondly, making sure Inheritance Tax (IHT) is apportioned correctly.

One of my highlights over the last 18 months was when a solicitor was pretty much ready to complete on an estate and sent me the accounts. I’m not a tax expert but through my background and experience gained from the ILM training, I noticed the IHT hadn’t been correctly apportioned.

Somehow it had slipped through the net and the solicitors agreed with me, so a £5k legacy became an £85k legacy and my boss was very happy – as was I.

Discuss

Post in the forum (members only)
Mention on Twitter