Legacy Roundtable 3 – 14th May 2020

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Key takeaways

Below is a quick summary of some of the key thoughts from our guests.

Matthew Lagden – The Institute of Legacy Management

  • Income is going to be disrupted and down in a way we haven’t experienced before. We have never experienced a period where legacy income drops from the previous period. Legacy Foresight think there may be a 25% drop in income based on 2019. No one knows what the recovery will look like. If house prices fall, legacy income will fall. The amount that legacy income goes down is the amount that property prices go down, so if you’re looking for any indicator of legacy increase or decrease, look at the property market.
  • The probate system has been disrupted but is starting to recover. Applications are starting to work their way through the system. If the property market starts to come back to life, charities will start to see income coming through. If properties can’t be sold, income won’t come through.
  • Will writing has become normalised so you will see a solid number of the population making a will. High street businesses and local solicitors will go out of business, so most wills will be written by only the big players, so start building relationships with them.
  • Anyone who wishes could run a wills notification service if they are willing to pay for the grants that enable them to do so. HMCTS will not take any steps to prevent other organisations to enter the market, nor will they do anything to promote a more competitive market.

Stephen Maund – Capacity Marketing for Charities

  • They deal with about 830 law firms network and 200-300 in free wills month that aren’t part of the network. About 102 of those are still referring people in the usual way, so in terms of regular activity they’re not seeing much difference at all.
  • They have seen a 7.5% drop in people using the network service but this may mask the fact that they work at the charity end, so it could actually be higher than last year.
  • Free Wills and Month – in March web visits went up by 20% and the results of the legacy campaign for this period have been the same as last year. They are finding that on the whole, legators are behaving normally. People want to write wills and are wanting the legacy services.
  • Stephen’s team polled 800 network law firms and from the first 100 who came back, virtually none were saying that they are shutting up shop entirely. Most are working from home or have a skeleton staff in the law firm or are arranging home visits in the garden. The solicitors want to continue with referrals.
  • The value of estates will determine legacy income. Hopefully in the long term they won’t be affected.
  • The level of the gifts in the wills is the same as the previous years so they are confident on behalf of their charity clients that there won’t be a drop off.

Jonathan Davies – MuchLoved

  • MuchLoved looked at like-for-like situations from both this year and last year, but the trends with charities and funeral directors are totally different. With charities, there’s not much difference with tribute funds being created, it’s about 20% down like-for-like. In terms of the content, candles and picture tributes are up massively. April is usually a big event month, so people are using candles and pictures instead of events as they aren’t happening.
  • For charities, the average gift has stayed about the same but the number of gifts has risen massively, up 25% like-for-like with last year. Some of these will include funeral notices but not many of them.
  • They are working directly with funeral directors who set up tributes as funeral announcements. These are up well over 25% in terms of number of tributes being created, candles are up 140% and pictures are up 190%. Values of donation are up over 60%, numbers of donations are up over 100% but average donation amount has gone down massively. This is because everyone is donating online, rather than split between in cash and online so those few large donations aren’t coming through which normally brings the average up, but there are many more of the smaller donations.
  • There’s no change with the top 200 recipients on their platform in terms of who is receiving the donations.
  • The number of funeral director partnerships has grown massively, and they are desperate to give better bereavement aftercare for people. Through MuchLoved they have still been able to offer some bereavement service, so going forwards as you develop relationships with funeral directors, really think about that bereavement side of your offering.
  • They have had some great experience with dedication pages. These can be up and running within a day and these are all about communities coming together, not about fundraising, so virtual events are something to think about.
  • August – October will be the time when a lot of families who haven’t been able to attend funerals will be holding memorial events, and so if you can support them during this time that will be a real opportunity.

Georgina Hyman – Alzheimer’s Research UK

  • ARUK had some events planned before the lockdown was announced, so they sent cancellation letters to their supporters. They continued with their PPC digital advertising but social media advertising and other online publications were put on hold as they wanted to make sure that it felt right and wasn’t adding to the fear element.
  • George doesn’t think that events will happen this financial year. Her team are keeping an eye on what the media are saying and they’ll decide on when go live with their other activity based on this.
  • They are otherwise using this time to catch up on other bits of work they wouldn’t usually have time to do. Her team have their paper resources so they are still able to send them out to supporters. They are reduced to their core staff but continuing as best as they can. They are putting more time and energy into stewardship, taking the time to have conversations with regional ties.
  • They haven’t yet seen that people are planning memorial events later in the year but wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. They have seen a rise in tribute funds.
  • George’s top tip is don’t panic and don’t make knee-jerk reactions. They are seeing a greater need for income today to make up for the loss of events, but the legacy income is one of the areas where cash is still flowing in, so don’t make a quick decision to cut all spend. Think about it strategically about what you can do now to maximise the future. Legacy income is an insurance policy for the future and it can see you through the uncertain future. For ARUK legacy is 1/3 of their income. They were shocked by how well they did in April, and this is because of the marketing that has been going, the engagement with their solicitors and supporters, and proves how important legacies are.

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