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Marlin Communications - digital strategy

A Gifts in Wills Conversation with Felicity Shand

Include a Charity Week (IAC) runs from 5-11 September 2022 and is a campaign run by Fundraising Institute of Australia to promote and elevate the work of over 100 charities across Australia. By working together we can change charitable giving forever and make Gifts in WiIls (GIW) the norm, allowing more Australians to make an impact after they’ve gone.

Marlin spoke to four trailblazers in the GIW space to gather their experience and insights. Tune in throughout the week to hear from each. Up next is Felicity Shand, Fundraising Manager at the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

What gets you up every day and energised about working in gifts in Wills?

I tear up when I talk about Bequests and Legacy Gifts – I think it is the most loving and powerful gift a person can leave a charity – it is a huge statement about their passions and hope for future generations. I find that really emotional and is why I always want to do the best I can to ensure their legacy is treated with respect and handled well in their memory.

What has surprised you about working in this space?

Two things: not all bequestors are old – some people plan their legacies well in advance and secondly, stereotypically we think of bequest officers as a little older. Inr reality, some of the best bequest officers I have seen are young, they interact with donors almost like an adult grandchild. It would be great to see more young people realise there is a place for them in this form of fundraising.

What’s the most challenging aspect of gifts in Wills?

Administration and keeping records up to date in a legally appropriate and respectful way. Database issues aside, Bequest / Relationship Managers tend to get behind on admin as their focus is on building relationships not the database.

What are your top three tips for how to look after a bequest donor?

  • Treat them as you would want to be treated, or how you would want your mum or grandmother to be treated.
  • Keep them engaged with all the usual communications – don’t silo them into a special bequest-only journey. They chose to give to you because of all the other things you do so keep them updated and send them all the communications they previously received.
  • Have the flexibility to treat bequestors as they wish to be treated. Some like to be acknowledged and treated special, while others don’t and prefer to blend in with the crowd.

Is there a charity (apart from yours of course) who you think is doing GIW particularly well? What has stood out to you?

As ex-RSPCA alumni, I must say their Pet Legacy hook is amazing. It not only actively encourages supporters to advise/confirm that they are a bequestor, but it provides an amazing service and peace of mind knowing your pets will be cared for if you pass away or are terminally ill and can’t care for them. This amazing synergy between animal lovers is why people support RSPCA and it provides a solution to what their supporter base worries about.

What’s an element of AMCS’s GIW program that you’re most proud of?

We’re still new to a bequest program and getting off the ground, but our Bi-Annual (2 years) Supporter Survey has seen us jump from 12 to 72 to 151 confirmed bequests over the past 4 years. Plus, we have already had a significant gift realised from that activity in the past year.