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Legacies Keep Our Charity Going: Case Study

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 7 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Legacies Legacy Bequest Bequeath

Charities are facing one of the most challenging periods in recent times. Having emerged from a deep recession, the UK economy is still struggling to recover. The parlous state of the country’s financial affairs has a number of important implications for charities.

Primarily, many people are simply not donating. This is understandable; many simply do not have the disposable income to do so, while others are saving because they are concerned about their financial prospects. But it is not just personal donations that have fallen. Many grant-making bodies are reducing the amount they make available to charities, while others have ceased making awards altogether.

Charities of every size are being affected by this change. Mark is the Finance Director of an animal welfare charity in the south of England. He told us how his organisation is plugging the gap.

How legacies help

“Legacies have always been an important source of income for us. Many people want to leave something to their preferred charities in their will, and we have been lucky enough to benefit from that.

“Legacies are particularly important because they represent a very cost-effective way of generating income. We spend a lot of time working with potential donors, helping them to identify whether or not we would be a good charity for them to leave a bequest to. But once a legacy is in place, it is incredibly cheap to administer.

“This is mainly true of cases where the terms of a legacy state that a certain amount will be paid every year, or every few years. We can be assured that the charity will be receiving a chunk of cash regularly, and we can plan our finances around that.”

Beating the downturn

Mark says that the charity for which he works has been hit by the downturn, but that legacies have been a major help.

“Legacies have truly helped us to survive in the last couple of years. Donations took a dive, and if it weren’t for our ongoing bequests we would be in real trouble.

“We are lucky enough to have a very experienced legacies manager. In fact, we are lucky that we have the cash to appoint a legacies manager at all. But this individual works closely with potential legacy donors to help work out a solution that is good for everyone involved."

What you can do

So what advice does Mark have for charities looking to secure legacies?

“You have to remember that it is a long-term solution. It is, by its nature, not something that happens overnight. So you need to be prepared to put in the work now. You will only get legacies if you form close relationships with potential donors. People want to feel like they are part of the organisation, and like they have a personal connection with the charity.

“Of course, this takes time. But legacies are going to become more and more important, so it is worth putting in the work.”

Legacies are a vital financial tool for charities of any size. With some hard work now, you can help to secure your charity’s financial future.

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