Richard Radcliffe carried out training for our charity partners. This is a note of what he said…

Who is Richard Radcliffe?

Richard has over 40 years fundraising experience specalising in gifts in wills. He has met over 30,000 donors and helped more than 700 charities with their gifts in wills (also known as “Legacy”) fundraising.

Richard was speaker at a dedicated seminar to our charity partners to help our partner charities improve their communications around Gifts in Wills. These notes are prepared by Oliver Asha, head of legal at Make a Will Online on 14 September 2020.

On “how to start your campaign””:

Lesson 1 is that a gifts in wills ask is not a “campaign” as that word lends itself to having a beginning and an end. Messages around gifts in wills should be continuous and integrated.  Once you start talking about gifts in wills you shouldn’t stop.

On “how to ask for gifts in wills”:

His mantra is “never ask for a legacy”, rather you should provide information and ask questions. A direct ask is a “no no” but an opening question with “did you know that… [e.g. gifts in wills allowed us to A, B and C]” can be a much more effective message.

Autumn 2020 is the perfect time to start communicating. Many more supporters are thinking about gifts in wills anyway due to the current turbulence.

On types of supporters:

There are Elephants and there are Meercats. This relates to decision making types.

Elephants are wise, thoughtful, protective of their family and reach decisions slowly. They will seek much more information about a charity before giving. They want proof that you are a worthy investment.

Meercats are younger, busier, realise they need a will but haven’t made one yet, may or may not have a desire to leave a gift to a charity.

With Elephants: provide internal voices from your charity.  Provide evidence that you are a good investment in the future for a gift in a will.

With Meercats: give external examples of others who have given to the charity.

On “Cultivation” and “Stewardship”:

Be aware of the difference between helping supporters leave a will (“cultivation”) and keeping supporters who have left a gift (“stewardship”).

People who enquire about leaving a gift are  genuine. People who pledge that they’ve given a gift are not always genuine.

On engagement:

Ensure your messages are appropriate for the audience.  Zoom Gloom after 15 minutes – keep virtual events short, sweet (and frequent).

Use the right mix of paper vs digital. Paper is surprisingly still very effective. Don’t be afraid to use telephone engagement too. Events are the best way to encourage gifts in wills.

1 in 3 Baby Boomers are putting a gift in their will.

On messages to your supporters:

Keep the messages simple.  Never a direct ask. Always a suggestion/ question e.g. “If you leave 1% of your estate to a charity in your will others closest to you receive 99%”.

Integrate the message.  Make sure it is seen throughout the charity.

On events:

Start doing them in 2021 when things are back to “normal”. Run them at 11am, have soft food (for older teeth), three relevant speakers (e.g. CEO, programme leader, fundraiser), easy access and parkings, allow a +1 for each guest.

Questions from the floor:

Q – what channels work best in the current climate?

A – Facebook always works well.  Media radio/ television/ radio are good for nationals but require greater investment. Saying “thank you” is often more effective at bringing new gifts in wills than “please”.

Q – What sectors are on the rise?

A – “Baby Boomer” causes. Museums and galleries are seeing more gifts, as are Universities (from alumni).

Q – What messages go with what time of year?

A – Talk about memories in Autumn campaigns. Evoke memories/ anniversaries. Talk about things to look forward to in Spring. Envision the future of your work.

Q – What is the best way to steward a prospect into a giver?

A – Events are the number one.  Group events better than one to one.  Allow introverts to listen without feeling examined.

Average value £25’000 of gifts in wills

*2019 – Legacy Foresight

Cost to charity £29.50 of supporter’s will

*2020 – Make a Will Online

Learn more about Make a Will Online

Make a Will Online provides the very highest service to your supporters with solicitor-advice available.  It is extremely quick to set up (it should take you less than 20 minutes once you’ve made the decision to proceed).  It is also the most affordable and low risk offer in the marketplace with no tie-ins, contracts and with a fixed fee per will.

Watch our video series about our service by clicking the following link.

For more information please email us at or call 0207 193 2747.

Gifts in Wills – a video guide