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New data released today by Legacy Futures reveals that charity sector investment in legacy fundraising has grown considerably in recent years, likely reflecting both growing awareness of the importance of legacies in charity sustainability and hard work in securing budget for legacy marketing.

Legacy Marketing Benchmarks is a biannual benchmarking programme involving around 30 of the largest charities by legacy income. They have kindly agreed to share a summary of the project findings with the wider sector.

Key stats include:

  • 6.2% of all fundraising spend now focused on legacies an increase of 31% on the previous year
  • 88% of marketing investment spent on new donor acquisition and free wills
  • Legacy marketing ROI is 1:15

Small spend, large returns

While its good news that investment levels in legacy have increased, when put into perspective, the number is still a relatively small proportion of overall fundraising spend when legacy returns can be substantial. The charities who submitted data to the research project spent £1 on marketing for every £35 of legacy income and had just one staff member for every £3m of legacy income.

Overall return on investment for legacy marketing across the sector remains high, at around £15 per £1 spent. This calculation takes into account the negative impact of a delayed return, as legacy income is a mid to long-term investment, and the potential uplift of silent legators (those who don’t make their pledges known to the charities they support).

Recruiting new legacy audiences is priority for most charities

The research also showed that recruiting new legacy audiences is where the majority of the investment goes. Acquisition marketing and free will schemes together make up for 88% of legacy marketing spend. Stewardship accounts for just 5% of spend, and awareness raising 6%. It is worth noting, however, that stewardship activities take up over a third of staff time.

The amount of investment going into legacies today compared to a decade ago is huge and very welcomed after years of underinvestment. In this new era of high volume legacy conversation, charities need to make sure they are being heard and that doesn't just mean shouting louder. The tone and quality of communication is just as important, nurturing long-lasting relationships with like-minded donors. For those still not investing properly in legacies, this should be a wake up call to start now. Ashley Rowthorn, CEO Legacy Futures

Legacy Marketing Benchmarks

Public Briefing Report

This briefing summarises the top-level findings from a benchmarking project that was designed to help charities better understand the world of legacy marketing, track their performance across a range of marketing metrics and to provide them with data to build a robust business case for legacy investment.