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Unlocking legacy fundraising potential

Posted on 1st August 2023

Reflections on a decade of Dutch Legacy Monitor research and beyond

By Lena Vizy

I still remember attending my first presentation of the Dutch Legacy Monitor, which must have been around a decade ago. The discussions we had regarding housing price trends in the Netherlands and their impact as one of the key drivers of legacy income for charities remain vivid in my memory.

Back in 2013, housing prices reached their lowest point of the decade, leading to a more cautious approach in predicting legacy income for charities at that time. Fast forward to the present, it is still fascinating to reflect on the different key factors driving legacy income, and also shocking to realise that housing prices increased 90.9% in value by January 2022. But personally, I also reflect and appreciate the invaluable insights and knowledge we, as legacy fundraisers, have gained through the ongoing research conducted by the Dutch Legacy Monitor.

Legacy fundraisers are well aware of the unique and sometimes challenging nature of predicting legacy income, measuring returns on investment, and estimating fundraising revenue for our organisations. Given the long-term commitment required in legacy fundraising, gaining deeper insights into market trends, income projections, consumer insights and organisational performance becomes even more critical in making strategic decisions that lead to successful legacy programmes.

And also in the past 10 years, I have transitioned from being a legacy fundraiser to working as a consultant. In my current role, I have the privilege of working with international contacts and charities, and it is evident that many charities in other European markets, like for example Germany, face difficulties in acquiring comprehensive insights and forecasts on their legacy market.

I realise once again the fortunate situation that legacy fundraisers in the Netherlands (and UK) find themselves in, thanks to the Legacy Monitor. This resource offers comprehensive market research, shedding light on the broader trends and patterns that shape the landscape of legacy giving – something that fundraisers rarely find time to research themselves in their busy daily routines. The monitor not only helps in developing future income predictions but also provides donor insights and benchmarking data. This allows fundraisers to evaluate their organisation’s performance relative to others in the sector, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. In addition, the consortium creates a safe and supportive space that encourages charities to share knowledge, which is highly valued.

As someone deeply passionate about highlighting the immense potential of legacy giving for charities across Europe, I genuinely hope to witness an increase in long-term initiatives similar to the Dutch or UK Legacy Monitor. Such initiatives would provide stable insights and equip legacy fundraisers with improved tools to navigate in their fundraising landscape.

Furthermore, I hold a (somewhat nerdy) wish. How great would it be to have the possibility to compare legacy giving across Europe? It would give us a better overview how different markets develop and what sectors could learn from others to stimulate legacy giving in their own country or market.

Additionally, individual charities could benefit greatly from this, as it would serve as a source of inspiration. Having worked in multiple countries, I’ve seen firsthand how legacy giving can vary due to cultural, legislative, and structural differences. Despite these, what unites us and what is in every country the same, is the wish of supporters and donors to leave this world a better place and to leave something good behind – that’s universal. So, I hope for the development of a framework that facilitates the sharing and comparison of European legacy markets and individual charity performances on a broader scale. I really like the idea having legacy monitors set up in various countries, which would promote collaboration and the sharing of knowledge about legacy giving even more.