Twenty years ago, Simon Turner was taken on as Remember A Charity’s first Director. He was tasked with the mission of getting the organisation up and running, turning the initial idea into a reality and embedding the first strategy. We asked him some questions about his involvement with Remember A Charity.
When the consortium was first mooted, I was working at Burnett Associates with clients ranging from RNLI to the National Trust, who were all looking for a way to come together and grow legacy giving.
When we looked at the numbers, the proportion of people leaving money in their Will seemed tiny and yet the impact on charities was already considerable. Fundraising directors could see the potential of legacies, but also that the opportunity was far bigger than any one organisation could wholly realise. Rather than competing, it made sense to work together to make the legacy cake even bigger and ensure everyone benefits; charities and those people who want to change the world by leaving a gift in their Will.
The consortium itself was the brainchild of David Brann at the RNLI. It seemed like a fantastic idea and a natural next move that would be a real catalyst for legacies across the sector. Appointed as the first director, my role was to get the consortium off the ground, working with the steering group to plan how best to turn that idea into a reality, setting the strategy and business plan.
You might think that getting 100 organisations together on one campaign might be a recipe for disaster, but actually, there was remarkably little conflict. Everyone who came into the campaign knew they would need to compromise and there was a real willingness to work together. There were some challenges around how best to make it work for organisations of all sizes, but the key building blocks were there. It was a great idea and already had senior level buy-in. The challenge was simply how best to get it all up and running.
Honestly, the thing I’m happiest about is that the campaign has continued to exist. It wasn’t a quick win; it was something lasting and it’s had an important impact.
When you look at other income streams over the years, they have been volatile, but legacy giving has continued to grow. The campaign has been the catalyst to help facilitate this change. The proportion of people leaving a gift in their Will has gone up and that is a great thing! But it’s nowhere near reached its peak. There’s still a huge amount of potential for further growth.
There’s always been an irony around the way legacy conversations are perceived. Charities can often shy away from talking about it, seeing it as a conversation about death. But it’s actually the opposite. Legacy giving is all about life. For most people, it’s the largest gift they will ever make. It’s their best possible chance to change the world and influence the future of the causes that they care about. And it’s the ultimate buy now, pay later scheme, offering all the benefits without people having to part with their money now.
Ultimately, legacies are a great opportunity to drive vital income to charities and beneficiaries, but they are also hugely rewarding and fulfilling for supporters too.
Now working as an independent fundraising consultant based in Edinburgh, Simon works with a broad range of charity clients guiding fundraising strategy and advising on individual fundraising channels.
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