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Legacy administration is essential. For those working in legacy fundraising it sometimes gets side-lined as the less interesting part, but given that it’s the stage where the charity receives its gift from the donor’s will, nothing could be further from the truth.

When it comes to effective legacy administration it’s all about communication, collaboration, and calculation. Here are my top tips for getting it right:

We are professionals

Make sure you always project professionalism and confidence in your work. If you’re dealing with the legal sector, they expect this, and if you’re supporting lay executors, they want to know that you are trusted and have them and the deceased’s best interests at heart. Some lay executors may find that there is a lack of information available to them, so make sure you give them everything they need.

Promote legacy administration

Talk to your colleagues, directors, trustees. Prepare a 2 min “lift pitch” that can explain your role quickly and effectively. The more people that understand legacy gifts the better! Demonstrate why what you do is so essential and the value you offer.

Have a plan

Create a set of procedures for your legacy administration, then share it within your organisation so other areas know what you do and how to interface with your team effectively. This can be an enormous help when there are so many things to deal with, such as staffing levels, audit queries, accruals and planning of income.

Empower your Legacy Officer

A Scheme of Delegation is vital to ensure a Legacy Officer can get things done in a timely manner and avoid organisational bureaucracy which can delay income. By empowering Legacy Officers, your responsibility for getting that income is made easier.

Be proportionate

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Take a pragmatic look at your cases before initiating any communications. Do you need to ask the question you plan to or can it be dealt with by other means? This is crucial when working with lay executors, who are likely more emotional in their bereavement than lawyers or professional counterparts would be.


Your industry colleagues can be your biggest asset. There are many groups and forums in which you can share experiences and discuss challenges, and lots of resources available on the Legacy Futures website, such as reports and webinars.


There are many professional advisors out there looking to support charities in carrying out legacy administration, from solicitors, to surveyors, and property sales specialists. Make a contact and have a chat, it usually costs nothing and can be an excellent source of support.  Growing your network of experts can only support you and your charities.

Make use of your CRM

Spreadsheets are fine for various tasks but managing a caseload outside of your reportable systems is not a great idea. Whatever CRM you are running can usually be made to work in some form to carry your caseload to keep it managed and reportable. As your income grows and fundraising increases, you’ll be thankful of good systems in place.

Go paperless

If you haven’t got there by now you really need to get on with digitising your workflow and give up on the files. There is a lot of experience out there to assist you. Just do it now.

Set up template letters

Have a full set of ready to roll template letters, emails and maybe even a collection of useful paragraphs, like a glossary, to deal with regular specific issues that can be quickly added to a template. Then integrate them into your business system. Getting this right saves so much time it is astonishing – and that means that you can carry on doing the big and important work that keeps income coming in, and your reputation bolstered.

And finally...

Always keep in mind that when you are dealing with the issues we encounter every day, you may be the only person in the whole process who really wants to ensure that the deceased’s generosity is carried out exactly as they intended in their last will and testament. It’s important then to act with respect, compassion and gratitude at all times.

Sharon Wheeler

Want to know more?

For more information about the ways we could support your team please contact Sharon Wheeler