10 things that 10 years of Free Wills Month have taught us...
When Capacity Marketing first created Free Wills Month, nobody had tried grouping charities together in a consortium expressly to seek legacy pledges by offering Wills for free. With 36 full-scale campaigns under our belts in the UK, Free Wills Month has established itself in the public mind.
Generating 3500 legacy pledges every year, it has spawned campaigns on the same model in Canada and the USA.
After raising more than £40 million in future income, here's what we've learned...
1. The landscape of media advertising is rapidly changing
When we ran the first campaign back in 2005, we relied exclusively on local newspapers as the most effective way to communicate with our target market. However in recent years, we've been testing outdoor marketing channels like advertisements inside train stations and tube carriages. This October we'll even be running our first pop-up shop in Leeds, staffed and supplied with banners and leaflets promoting Free Wills Month and its charities.
2. Having a consortium of charities works
While we can't claim to have created the consortium idea as such – Will Aid preceded us by some years – we can definitely argue that having well-known charities within a selection of cause areas really does work when it comes to encouraging people to leave a legacy. Smee & Ford report that ordinarily 7.3% of Wills contain a legacy gift. In Free Wills Month campaigns, the comparable figure is 58% of people leaving gifts to one of our charities. This suggests it's a combination of timing, removing barriers and having cause areas that appeal to everyone.
3. The people you choose to work with are an extension of your service
The solicitors we choose to work with are our greatest asset as they're the ones publicly representing the brand through their services. This is why we choose to only work with fully qualified solicitors who can approach the subject of Wills with the sensitivity and professionalism that is necessary. We also regularly recruit new firms to strengthen locations.
4. The word "free" can be a double-edged sword
The word “free” removes one of the barriers people feel about making their Will – cost. Contrarily, the biggest risk of offering a free Wills service to members of the public is that nobody will leave a legacy gift. While it is inevitable to attract some people who see the word “free” and take it at face value, nearly three-fifths of people who write their Wills through our campaign include a legacy gift.
5. Looking Past Dorothy Donor
One of the most important things we've learnt through our campaigns, is to look past the typical donor generation groups. Great gifts can come from all types of socio-economic groups. Legacy Foresight predicts that between now and 2050 the legacy market will have more than doubled in size. Our sense is that the profile of legacy pledgers will become more diverse.
6. More people are using the internet than ever
Last campaign our website had over 14,000 visitors in one day! This is a remarkable change from when we first started to use the web. With more and more people at and above retirement age using the internet, the media mix we are using is changing.
7. The power of brand recognition
We've worked with organisations of every size, and we always find it interesting to see how charities within the same cause area achieve such differing results. Free Wills Month demonstrates the power of a trusted brand within a cause area.
8. Popularity can be seen as a sign of trust
Free Wills Month returns to many locations year after year. Many people show their confidence in the campaign by looking out for it, to the extent that four of our last six campaigns have closed early, inside the planned month, because appointments with the solicitors were filled so quickly.
9. There is no International cookie-cutter approach
What we've learnt from growing our business in Canada, Ireland and the USA is that there is no rigid model of legacy marketing that will work in all markets. While statistics on legacy marketing, and the legacy fundraising environment, are similar in all the countries where we operate, how we communicate with them successfully is a kaleidoscope of different approaches. The benefit of working in different markets is that we cross-fertilise ideas and experiences.
10. Timing is everything
Our services may not be right for a charity right now, but at some point they may decide that Free Wills could be a useful addition to their legacy strategy. Similarly, donors see publicity for Free Wills Month but don’t always act at that time: sometimes there are considerations that have to be worked through first, then they’re ready to see a solicitor – and of course the regular nature of Free Wills Month coming round every year helps.
Capacity Marketing for Charities
Organisers of Free Wills Month and the National Free Wills Network
- legacy fundraising