Putting the spotlight on discretionary legacies – Part 2

March 15, 2024

In the second half of this two-part article, we revisit Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity), which achieved a record total income of £108 million (up from £74.5m the year before) in the year up to March 2023. We find out more from Richard Pragnell, GOSH Charity’s Head of Legacy Management, about how the legacy team helped contribute towards such a terrific result.

ILM: We know that GOSH Charity’s success in achieving such a sharp rise in income came after a major fundraising drive, did this focus on legacies too?

RP: Legacy income accounts for around a third of our annual income at GOSH Charity, so it’s a hugely important income stream and a key area of growth for the charity’s fundraising strategy – a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to prioritise cross-charity projects with our colleagues in Marketing and Communications, who are hugely supportive of our legacy programmes.

ILM: Do most of your legacy gifts come via the website/free wills guide?

RP: No not at all, like most charities, the majority of our legacies come from supporters that were not previously known to us during their lifetimes, they may have supported from afar but not interacted directly enough to be on our databases.  

Around 30% have supported through other channels or fundraising streams without ever registering an interest in legacy giving and just 15% of our legacies are from supporters that have confirmed their interest in leaving a gift to GOSH Charity in their will.

ILM: Of the people who leave legacies to GOSH Charity, is that most often because of their own/family experiences or do you think that GOSH Charity is one of those charities that appeals to a broader legacy audience.

RP: I’m biased, but I think it’s fair to say that the hospital is a national institution and whilst there’s definitely a cohort of legators who have a personal connection to the hospital; either they or a family member were treated at the hospital as a child or they had a connection to someone who was seriously ill as a child; we also receive lots legacies from supporters who don’t necessarily have a personal connection, but just deeply care about the cause and our ongoing work to help transform the lives of seriously ill children.

ILM: Lastly, it would be great to hear the ‘secrets of your success’, top tips for legacy professionals from GOSH Charity

RP: As legacy professionals, we hold a privileged position as custodians of our supporters’ final and often most generous act of charitable support. Many of us are dealing directly with the recently bereaved every day, and I know that so many of us do this with supreme tact and compassion.  

At GOSH Charity we treat every interaction as a potential for generating goodwill and ultimately a gateway to further support in the future – we want the families and friends of deceased supporters, and also their professional advisers, to reflect positively on those touch points when share their experiences with others. And so much of that is simply down to actively listening, sympathising and personalising the experience as far as we possibly can. We’re fortunate that more than 90% of our legacy income is unrestricted, but we will offer to restrict legacies if families or executors feel that it would be a fitting tribute to the legator.

ILM: Thank you Richard

If you missed part one of Richard’s interview, which focused on dealing with discretionary legacies, you can catch up here


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