What about the post?!

April 24, 2020

Ally Rirsch, Legacy Administration Manager at WaterAid, writes about how her charity resolved the issue of receiving mail during lockdown …

Like many of us across the sector, perhaps my biggest worry when I heard WaterAid’s office would likely be closing was ‘But…what about the post!?’.

Legacies account for about 10% of WaterAid’s income and it was vital that we could continue to rely on this income during lockdown. We receive legacy post on a daily basis, but it varies considerably in volume; sometimes it’s just one or two updating letters, and sometimes we receive huge batches of letters with large cheques and reams of estate accounts.

Either way, I was very concerned about not being able to get my hands on the post, as having access to and then responding to the letters I receive is a crucial part of my role.

Mail redirect

WaterAid resolved this issue by setting up a redirect of all the post addressed to our head office (legacy-related or otherwise) so that it is instead delivered to our fulfilment agency, who usually manage all of our appeal post and thanking. They themselves are short staffed, but we are lucky in that they have agreed to help us out with scanning in all of the post. These scans are uploaded to a secure folder, where a member of our Supporter Operations team can sort and share with the relevant teams.

The agency are also helping us by banking our cheques. However, as legacy cheques typically don’t arrive with a handy donation form letting the agency know the supporter ID or how the gift should be coded, there is little bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the agency and our Supporter Operations Team, who usually manage the legacy cheques in-house, to ensure the gifts are processed and coded correctly. Once they have been coded, the scans are then passed to me.

Paperless office

WaterAid managed to move to a paperless office in February (so just in the nick of time), and therefore all of our files are now held in digital format on First Class. The agency have been instructed to confidentially dispose of all correspondence they receive for WaterAid once it has been scanned. However, there are of course some pieces of legacy correspondence / documentation that will need to be retained for the time being, such as original Deeds of Variation we are being sent for signature. Fortunately WaterAid doesn’t receive too much of this type of correspondence, and we have therefore set up a process whereby I advise the agency on a weekly basis if there are any items amongst the scanned correspondence that they need to keep.

Somewhat inevitably, there is a bit of a delay between the agency receiving the post and me eventually having sight of the scanned copies. However, despite some initial teething problems, all of those involved with this process are now getting into the swing of things and I am now receiving scans of the post on a regular basis. This will help WaterAid to continue banking income at a vital time for the charity, which will allow us to respond to the spread of coronavirus in the countries where we work through the provision of clean water and handwashing facilities. 


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