How to collect compelling legacy case studies and use them in your marketing

Published 02 September 2022

Sanita Guddu, Fundraising Consultant at Persuasian, has been round the legacy fundraising block a few times and back. Initially as a grass roots fundraiser, then moving into leading regional legacy teams, she is now a legacy specialist to charities of all sizes. In this blog post, she explores the steps you can take to collect case studies that will inspire and start legacy conversations with your legacy prospects.

Why you need stories

Stories about beneficiaries show supporters the difference their legacy gift could make.  A story with impact will tap into your legacy prospects emotions taking them on a journey to start caring about your cause.

Remember that legacies like all other types of charitable giving, are often dictated by our hearts and not our minds.

Your case studies need to focus on how important gifts in Wills have been to your cause – the lives they have saved, the life-changing research they have funded and the services that have been saved, as well as how much you will need them in the future.

Talking about legacies through stories is an easy way to introduce the idea of leaving a gift and can take the fear out of talking about legacies. 


What types of case studies matter?

  1. Stories from family members of legators

They can tell you what your supporter was like as a person, what might have inspired them to leave a legacy and whether they ever talked about their charitable giving.

Whilst your readers and legacy prospects find common ground with your past legator stories, it can inspire them to want to be part of making the difference that your charity is seeking to achieve.

If the idea of talking to family members fills you with dread, fear not.  As someone that has been speaking to legator families for most of my career, I can assure you that the conversations are often welcome by family members and can be a therapeutic experience for them.

When speaking to legator’s adult children expect to hear phrases such as “ I am so proud of my Mum for supporting your charity in this way.  She always instilled in us the importance of giving back and she even did that right to the end.”

  1. Stories from friends of legators

With the absence of any family members, they might be appointed as executor or a beneficiary in the Will.

  1. Stories from your charity beneficiaries

Demonstrating the difference the legacy has made to them.

If the legator was known to your charity as a volunteer or used your charitable services, you can also interview their peers. These stories can be just as inspiring as those from family members.

  1. Pledger stories

These are exceptionally powerful when a pledger can talk about the rationale for not leaving their entire estate to their family, as they are managing the objection that people with children do not feel they can leave a charitable legacy.  Expect to hear things such as:

“I don’t feel that I need to leave everything to my children. I’ve worked hard to provide for them and get them started in life. I believe that I can support the causes that have been important to me and still leave them a bit of money too.”

How to access families and friends of legators

  1. Throughout the legacy estate administration process, work to build a good relationship with the solicitor or lay executor. If you personally don’t manage the legacy admin, ensure that whoever does is aware of your plans to ask solicitors for permission to contact family and friends. Note that this permission is sought after the legacy has been received.
  2. Ensure that, at the start of the legacy administration process, where you are aware of surviving family members, a thank you letter is sent to them via the solicitor. This information will be detailed in the Will. Personalise your letter as much as time and budget allows by referencing any other known relationships the legator had with your cause.

Naturally, only write to those where they have also benefited from the estate.

  1. When the legacy has been received, send a letter via the solicitor asking if the family members or friends would be willing to share their loved one’s story with you. You can also refer to the fact that it is an opportunity for family and friends to be informed on how the legacy has been used.

Do ensure that where a solicitor has administered the estate, you go via them and do not contact family and friends directly.

How to get pledgers to tell their story

The point where a pledger informs you of their legacy intention is the opportune time to invite them to share their reasons for supporting your cause in this way. Inform them that others hearing their story may be motivated to support through a legacy too.

Where to use your case studies:

Social media & website - Facebook lends itself well to case studies and you can use the opportunity to ask followers to request legacy information

In all appeals - postal, email and telephone

Newsletters - what a great news story to share, about a new legacy you have received.

Thank you letters - try testing a few quotes from one of your case studies, in place of stating the need for legacies and sign off with an ask.

Events - In-person and Virtual

In your next legacy enquiry leaflet or brochure - here you can publish the case study in more detail.