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Respect the intelligence of your prospects

What really annoys me at the moment is: special Will making offers. In my view most of them are deeply patronising and assume I am too stupid to have one (as a tail end baby boomer). What Is more, these “special offers”, which are not really special at all, are often attracting the least good prospects. Add to that the fact that not all offers comply with Charity Commission guidelines and we have a potential media timebomb.

Let me be frank and state some views which are gentle (well may be not that gentle) reflections from donors I am meeting.

  • ·       Anyone with any wealth will have a Will. The issue is having the time to update it.
  • ·       Most donors I meet who are the best prospects query the cost to a charity of a “special offer”. So, it can reduce trust and confidence. How transparent is “the deal”?   
  • ·       As a tail end baby boomer, I do not want someone coming to my home who is “unqualified” to do it. Especially if I or my partner/wife has dementia. Contested Wills are rising fast.
  • ·       If I am under 45 ish I might use a “special offer” but by the time I retire (the REALLY important Will) I will have forgotten the contents of my first Will made in a hurry and without thought. So, I think again, when I retire, about how all my beneficiaries might benefit and who they might be. And these beneficiaries change because all my circumstances have changed. (see previous blog on my website)
  • ·       But I fully admit  cannot leave a gift in my Will unless I have a Will. But (again) over 80% of “best prospects” (those with assets of any size) have a Will but 65% are out of date.
  • ·       On Facebook I opened a link to a Will making scheme and have since had over 40 nudges in one week. That charity is driving me mad.
  • ·       The unmeasurable negative effect: if someone gets angry at the incessant or persistent offer of a free/discounted Will – do they tell you? No, but they do talk about these offers in focus groups and they ARE getting angry; very angry on occasions.
  • ·       In my opinion there is no “legacy prospect journey” (more about this later in the year when I have time). Prospects have financial concerns which demand a flexible future in terms of relationships.   

The call to action is ease of action. My call to action to fundraisers is: stop special offers to your supporters – it is cheapening the perception of the gift.  An easy action is not a special offer: it is a call phone to your solicitor. It is telling prospects the name and registered charity number of your charity = that is all that 99% of enquirers need.  It is not telling, or ordering, me to read the “wording” for a Will or a Codicil because that will annoy my solicitor who is capable of drafting their own focused on my circumstances. They too are professional and do not need to be told what to say in a Will they are drafting.

Baby boomers have a solicitor, an accountant and/or a wealth adviser. All of them can access a professional Will writer.  And all of them will give you guidance as to the action you might like to take. It is NOT the role of a charity “to tell you what to do” – we are not qualified legal advisers. It is just guidance/support which we offer.

There is of course one other issue or assumption: do solicitors offer the BEST guidance? The answer is not always because some of them truly dislike any charity being mentioned in their clients’ Will – but that is another issue! But the Charity Commission guidelines recommend using a solicitor or member of IPW.

Baby boomers who earned a fortune will spend a family fortune on: dementia care, university costs, getting family on the property ladder, holidays and divorce. Their finances are good but their financial future uncertain. This uncertainty needs flexibility (which their wealth advisers, solicitors and accountants are dealing with on a flexible basis). What they do not need is a special Will offer.

I fully admit that there are always exceptions to the rule concerning special Will offers but they are the minority and what we NEVER know is the negative reactions felt by people who see a “special offer” but never complain – be careful how you evaluate outcomes.

Richard Radcliffe FInstF Cert meets donors and other stakeholders, develops strategies and trains anyone to talk and write about legacy giving in a nice way. He has asked about 700,000 questions to stakeholders and helped develop strategies for hundreds of charities of every size and cause.  

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