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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charities increasingly target legacies as the sector continues to show growth


Marketing budgets are being allocated cash to target legacy giving

New data released this week reveals that charity sector investment in legacy fundraising has grown considerably in recent years.

Figures from Legacy Futures group point to a growing awareness of the importance of legacies in charity sustainability and charites working harder to secure budgets for legacy marketing.

Investment recorded in 2022/23 increased 31% on the previous year, accounting for 6.2% of total fundraising spend – up from just 3.7% in 2018/19.

While it's 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.

Ashley Rowthorn, CEO of Legacy Futures, said: “While it’s good news that more charities are investing in their legacy marketing, one inevitable outcome is that the marketplace becomes more crowded, with more charities than ever vying to be heard. This means that individual organisations are having to work harder to cut through and that those not investing may struggle to be noticed.

“The flipside is that the combined efforts of charities to convey the legacy message drives an increase in the market overall, benefiting the sector as a whole.” 

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).

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.



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