How to develop a low-budget legacy campaign

How to develop a low-budget legacy campaign

By Vikki Thompson


With a return on investment of 40: 1, legacy fundraising is well worth exploring. Vikki Thompson shares advice on developing a campaign and engaging supporters.

In the last 25 years the UK legacy market has more than quadrupled in value. Between 1988 and 2013, total British legacy incomes have grown from £0.46bn to £2.16bn. The return on investment for legacy fundraising is 40: 1. A legacy campaign should be a part of the fundraising strategy for any charity, however large or small.

For the arts, museums and heritage sectors I think any organisation with a membership is well placed to develop a legacy campaign that does not require a large budget, but relies on good communication and good stewardship. The subject of this guide is about engaging with members to encourage legacy giving.

Members – a core legacy audience

Over the last fifteen years I have worked on legacy campaigns for War Memorials Trust,
Imperial War Museums and the British Museum. The primary audience for all of these were the members. The reasons for this are:

  • members are already engaged and interested with your organisation’s work
  • by becoming a Friend or a Member and renewing their subscriptions they are already exhibiting good will towards your organisation
  • there is already a mechanism to communicate with them
  • there is already a structure to steward them


As with all fundraising, good research is integral to the success of a legacy campaign.

Data analysis

First of all you need to analyse your membership database and identify the following members as potential legacy donors:

  • those who have been members for five years or more
  • those who have donated to appeals that your organisation has held
  • those who attend events regularly
  • those who volunteer for your organisation

It is important that you code these individuals on your database as potential legacy donors.

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Fundraising Legacies Legacy
Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2015