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Fuel your Legacy Engagement Through Integration

Fundraisers and marketers are often looking for a secret sauce to increase giving, engagement and improve ROI. We know that legacy giving programs have an amazing ROI (Lifetime value of these donors is 19x that of a loyal OTG donor alone) but often they are still siloed or worse, over in a corner being facilitated on one poor human’s desk (if this is you – we know you are a unicorn)! This is not realizing the potential of the power of legacy giving.

Start with your known audiences

In traditional marketing terms, the power of integration is in campaigning, using multiple channels with consistent messages that make sense for that target audience. We believe that there are both known audiences and unknown audiences that drive legacy giving, so we want to be reaching both and meeting people where they are on the journey with you.

Traditionally, we used direct mail and tele-calling together to engage, educate and inspire donors in legacy giving. For known audiences, nothing beats direct mail at reach – organizations used to have 100% of their prospect donors’ mailing addresses, so you could blanket the file, and target and personalize as you desired based on who the donor was. This is still an important part of targeting and engaging because it is long format and can really help us connect.

The phone is an amazing tool to – wait for it – actually talk to legacy prospects. In combination with mail, it is powerful and remains so today. But many of your donors – even donors 70 plus – are on email, they are on social, they are using video conferencing and they are using the web like never before. So, do you have these channels integrated too? What about all of the donors who are now only online donors – how will your legacy marketing reach them? We know, from our research into donor attitudes during this pandemic, that younger audiences are thinking legacy giving now – so digital is key.

Email is at the centre of all of our DRM programs – and legacy is no different. The power of storytelling and video is at your fingertips – and building donor journeys with amazing content is there, so capitalize on it! We want to build in moments of connection and in order to do this – we need to do more.

Move to your unknown audiences

Digital has the power to attract new people to your cause and engage them in a lifetime of giving and support – but you need to dig deep to understand what they need and why – and build not just content but an offer that really resonates. This means you need to do some heavy lifting and understand them first – then determine how to reach them with your incredibly powerful legacy message.

We use digital media to test as well as integrated campaigning. Because we believe that legacy giving fits firmly in between brand awareness and direct marketing, we use legacy engagement across the year in our programs. We test proposition and content engagement, and most importantly, we use different measurements to define success.

We also understand that the power of integration is knowing how to capitalize on our own digital real estate to support our outreach and engagement strategies. Your legacy web pages should really be an extension of these connections, with a user experience and offer that really inspires. We did a review of 150 websites to look at their legacy pages – only 18% of the websites in Canada demonstrated a solid legacy offer, versus 32% in the US. About 76% of all of them led with tax information and giving circles. There was no inspiration or connection there at all. And only 25% of the Canadian sites were, what we would define as, relationship-based (human) versus transactional in nature. The US was better, at 38%. So, we have some work to do on understanding both our audiences and the power of digital in legacy engagement that is driven by values and conversations.

Integration across the organization

Lastly, when we talk integration, we are also talking revenue areas. We are talking about changing the culture to ensure we are open about legacies (Kimberley’s last blog in this series) and ensuring that legacy is embedded in every area of giving. Traditionally, legacy has been attached to either major gift or to annual – both are correct, and both are essential.

Everyone should be comfortable starting a conversation on legacy – and moving it forward. Integration needs to occur to make sure, as an organization, legacy is normalized whether you are talking about blended giving (giving now and in the future, which btw most major gifts are by their nature), more sophisticated giving strategies like annuities or donor advised funds, or you are talking about the power of including your charity in a will to a donor who has made gifts under $100 but is a passionate supporter who cares about you deeply.

Integration has the power to be a real force in your organization. We can harness it, or we can ignore it while others invest and engage. We can think about one audience and ignore the new or emerging groups, at the detriment to our future revenue. Because donors and the public are shifting their thinking about their own legacies and warming to the inclusion of charity in their wills, we believe that now is the time to change the way you are thinking about legacy integration across your organization.

We want to inspire both the unicorns and the naysayers to think differently about legacy giving and the possibilities that true integration of legacy offers, as it holds an amazing power to transform our organizations!