Finding the right legacy proposition

GOOD_Thinking_LegacyThe need for a differentiated proposition was summed up neatly for me by seeing a bus at Brighton station emblazoned with the words “Of your own free will”. Yes, it was a legacy ad, and for a local hospice at that. The cause is an incredibly important and relevant one. Yet none of that relevance –whether about being local, or simply meaningful to people who’ve lived through the final illness of a loved one – came across. It was generic. And it was on a bus too – as though to add to the general sense of being completely untargeted.

This is just one example, of course, and unfair one. I am picking on a small charity, but legacy propositions and asks are largely undifferentiated right across the sector. We ask people to choose our cause above thousands of others when making a will. Yet we can’t seem to tell them why. A quick survey of the legacy web pages of any of the top 100 charities will tell you the same.

So. There’s the context. There’s also an approach and a process we use to define the right legacy proposition. More useful to outline in this post is the checklist we use to interrogate whether we’re reached the right answer. Your legacy proposition should be at least some of these things. If you’re in the process of defining yours, you might find it useful:

  1. Link to your cause: most people leave a gift to a cause that is relevant to them, through their life experience or simply their values. Your proposition should reflect that.
  2. Be relevant to the audience lifestage: people leaving legacies are at a time of life where they are making choices based on a sense of personal fulfilment. They are seeking meaning. What can you offer them?
  3. Focus on the outcome: don’t just talk about your need for money. Paint a picture of what a legacy could achieve, even in broad terms.
  4. Fit with wider communications: when a legacy ask arrives it should feel completely natural – not at odds with what you normally talk about.
  5. Ensure longevity: people need to see that their legacy will have value in 10, 20 or 30 years. What will you be doing with the money and why will you still need it?
  6. Think about your tone of voice: don’t suddenly turn into a lawyer or start speaking like a building. Be just as warm and personal as you usually are, or more so if possible. Remember, you want to start a conversation.

If you can do some of these things you will be some way to a legacy proposition, ask and communications that reach people at a deep level. That inspire them and offer them the meaning they are seeking. That help them articulate and put into action something they already feel inside.

With the UK’s death rates predicted to rise for the first time in 30 years, now’s the time to think about all this.