We talk a lot about Legacy giving at GOOD Agency. A lot.  It’s a hot topic at the moment, boomers are booming and dying, changes in permissions are driving us to look at longer term income streams and we are seeing brief after brief landing on our desks all wanting to know how to engage boomers and seniors in leaving a gift to charity in their will.

The questions are the same — how do we stand out and be different? How do we grab attention and acquire new legacy supporters? All good questions, but somehow missing a key point – how do we create an experience that bring our supporters so close to the cause that they really feel the impact of what their legacy could be while they are still living. What happens after they’ve seen the stand out DRTV ad? What next? It can be many years between writing a will and dying. What’s to stop your supporters changing their mind or putting pen to paper at all?

My dad died recently and my thoughts turned to what his legacy would be? Well, he wasn’t much of a “charity person” (my words), so I assumed he probably hadn’t left a gift in his will. He hated cats, so he definitely wouldn’t be leaving a gift to any animal charity, and cancer and heart disease felt like obvious charity choices, but just not right for him and not relevant to his life and his values.

What he did value was hard graft and a drive to succeed, and what gave him the most enjoyment in life was being a guinea pig for the hard working medical students at a hospital in Newcastle.

He was legendary for the fact that no-one ever had been able to find a pulse in his wrist. Ever. He liked nothing more than watching confused medical students trying to reconcile the man who they should declare clinically dead from lack of pulse, to the man laughing and joking on the examination table. He took part in so many medical assessments, Consultants would actively look for his opinion of whether a student should pass or fail. (I hope none of them find out a nod of my dads head or a shrug of his shoulders should dictate their future).

And so, I shouldn’t have been surprised that he had a legacy, it went to fund medical research at the hospital in Newcastle where he willingly gave up so much of his time. It was something that he valued. It gave him purpose when his illness threatened to take that away, it entertained him in his retirement, it was rewarding and most of all it made him feel like he was making a difference.

So the answer to the question? Not bland, polite take the name out and it could be anyone communications. And not attention grabbing skydiving oldies. What is key is tapping into the values you share with your supporter, creating the experiences that they will value. Giving them purpose. In their lifetime.