3 opportunities to grow legacy giving for your university

In 2020, Farewill users pledged £2.3m in gifts to universities in their wills. Using our expertise in donor behaviour, alongside partners like King's College London, we want to help grow these gifts. 

According to Matthew Langdon from the Institute for Legacy Management, 660,000 baby boomers have passed through UK universities. Our own data shows a significant increase in the number of people writing their wills at home - particularly those aged 55+. As this generation matures, so does a highly receptive audience for legacy campaigns. 

And we know that life events such as purchasing a home and retirement act as triggers for will writing, with many alumni choosing to reconnect. The moment when their own children leave home to start higher education can also be an opportunity for fundraisers. Here are 3 ways to help you make the most of the current rise in charitable will-writing

If you want support in crafting your legacy campaign Farewill can help

Our partnerships team are experts in creating meaningful campaigns. We're proud to have £410 million already pledged to the hundreds of charities and various universities we work with.

1. Maximise the value of your data

Fundraisers do not need a perfect database in place before getting started. Simply tracking the age and graduation date of alumni who've responded to campaigns, is a great way to start. 

Over time this data will give you insight on:

  • what legacy messaging is the most effective

  • which age groups can be reached

  • what channels are most effective for your target audience

Effective campaigns build on detailed reporting and demographic analysis. Fundraisers can use tools such as our reporting dashboard, Spotlight, to track engagement in real time. Testing and comparing different messages and channels, is an opportunity to find approaches with the highest impact.

This could reflect a high return or investment, or particularly strong results from a target audience. For example, including a case study might increase average gift sizes, whilst using social media could broaden the geographic spread of your pledgers. 

2. Engage different groups

A conversation about wills can strengthen a relationship with different groups of potential supporters. Your next pledges may come from alumni who are already engaged. Adding legacy touchpoints for those who donate, or attend events, is a practical first step

A legacy campaign can also be a valuable tool for rekindling a relationship. Many people may have fallen out of touch with their university, but value the chance to write or update their will. For instance, King's College London decided to offer a free service to older disengaged alumni. This was also an invitation to pledge a gift, opening up new conversations about philanthropy.

Fundraisers can draw on heritage to create meaningful journeys for legacy prospects. For instance, the University of Birmingham established the Rowbotham Fellowship, named after their first supporter to leave a gift in their will. An invite to the fellowship’s annual reception is an opportunity for pledgers to learn about the impact their gifts can have. A similar group at the University of Edinburgh has attracted 1,479 members in just 30 years, generating an average of £3M per year. 

3. Listen to donors, to shape impact

A legacy gift is a deeply personal commitment. Universities can make sure potential pledgers feel informed and confident, by listening to their interests, suggestions and opinions on how it could be spent. Engaging with someones' ambitions and anxieties might involve a cross-disciplinary team of fundraisers, educators and researchers.

A will writing company can make sure that their wishes are recorded, and the donor feels informed about what will happen to their estate. However, when someone uses a free will writing service to leave you a legacy, it should be just the start of a lifelong relationship with the university. 

The history of the UK’s education sector is also a history of philanthropy. Transformative gifts have funded everything from bursaries to research, widening access to education and grow our understanding of the world. Demographic trends have created an exciting opportunity for universities to build on this impact for years to come.

​​“Many people UK wide, pledge gifts in support of education but we recognise there are many more still, who would be encouraged by a meaningful will-writing experience. So over the last year, we have optimised our supporter journey to do just that, whilst developing products and tools to make it as easy as possible for fundraisers to engage their alumni and supporters. We are now speaking with universities to help them grow legacy fundraising and would welcome a conversation with yours”

Derek Hill, Head of Charity Strategy

Farewill can help you create a legacy strategy

Our partnerships team are specialists who can set you up for success with all your legacy funding needs. From getting to grips with data to giving you ideas on how to reconnect with old alumni.