How The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity put audience-insight at the heart of its legacy campaign

Charlie Booth and Antonia Dalmahoy, Managing Director, at Royal Marsden receiving their award at the National Fundraising Awards

Guest Bloggers | 21 October 2019

Charlie Booth, Head of Legacies at The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, explains how the charity’s successfully used audience-insight in their legacy campaign, leading to them winning Legacy Campaign of the Year at the National Fundraising Awards.

Charlie Booth will be speaking at the Legacy Fundraising Conference – only one week left to book!

‘Give back to the future’ is the first legacy campaign run by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. We identified legacy giving as an opportunity and area for strategic growth. The charity had performed fairly well in the past in terms of legacies, despite not proactively marketing legacy opportunities; this was due to the reputation and excellence of care given at The Royal Marsden, as most legacy gifts are given as a thank you. However, we had noticed a slowing of our legacy income, rather than a rise compared to our charitable peers, particularly those who now have established legacy programmes.

We realised that the reliance on the reputation and excellence of care at The Royal Marsden is not sufficient to drive and grow our legacy income so we wanted to develop a campaign that both highlighted the role that the charity plays in supporting the work of the hospital and increases awareness of gifts in Wills as an opportunity to give back. The focus of our campaign is to strengthen our position, grow our market share and deliver a more stable, sustainable and growing future income stream, which will ultimately improve the lives of more people affected by cancer.

How we met our objectives

The success of the ‘Give back to the future’ campaign was measured in relation to achievements against initial objectives set, which I’ve outlined below. Despite only launching last summer, we have achieved some remarkable success, not only through meeting our objectives but also through the recognition of winning a National Fundraising Award for the campaign.

Royal Marsden campaign image 2One of our objectives was to create tangible, flexible and clear legacy messaging and visuals that can be applied to multiple channels for our charity communications. We exceeded all the original targets set for direct mail, website and social media. We are working on a more focused consideration approach off the back of the original awareness raising through digital channels.

Another was to develop new legacy materials and tone of voice that reflect key insights and are engaging and inspiring. We achieved this by creating a suite of materials that reflect what we learnt from our research including an Enquirer Guide, poster, in hospital leaflet, Executor Guide and our website.

One of our objectives was to generate positive engagement from supporters and patients which would then result in an increase in enquiries and pledges. From working towards this we saw 250% increase in enquiries and 450% increase in pledges compared to the previous year. This result was far greater than we could have expected and helps to prove the impact of the campaign in raising awareness of this type of giving. 

A final objective was to generate positive engagement from charity and hospital staff which results in positive feedback and engagement with legacy fundraising. Despite initial hesitation about promoting legacies within the hospital, we overcame this through our research and insight. This has helped to engage staff with the campaign across the hospital and as a result we received no complaints has driven at least 10 direct enquiries to date.

Lessons we learned

We had a strong approach to research and creative development working with our agency, but if I was to do anything differently were we to do it again, we would spend less time trying to strengthen the comparison concept for testing. ‘Give back to the future’ was a strong concept for us from the beginning and we should have trusted this more when testing.

We are still learning about how to apply the campaign in different way and mediums. We are exploring ways to strengthen the message outside of the charity and hospital environments, particularly for digital. The challenge is trying to identify the best way to use and adapt the campaign to the best success, without losing the essence of what made it so strong in the first place. We’ve just launched a free Will service and new awareness video using ‘Give back to the future’, but always come back to the research findings.

My advice to others embarking on a new legacy campaign would be to utilise the voice of your key audience to drive insight that will shape your proposition. Ensuring that your creative agencies and partners are close to this insight will also help focus the outcome.

Winning Legacy Campaign of the year at the National Fundraising Awards was incredible for us – to receive sector recognition for our first legacy campaign was just astounding. We are really grateful to all the patients' loved ones and supporters who have lent their voices to the campaign and have helped us shape it.

Charlie Booth will be speaking at the Legacy Fundraising Conference on Monday 28 October where she will outline how The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity produced a legacy proposition from scratch and how to remain sensitive and compassionate when implementing a campaign that will inspire people to leave a gift in their will.

See the full programme and book your place here.

Charlie Booth is Head of Legacies at The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

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