Meg Abdy, Development Director at Legacy Foresight explains how their new tool can help hospices manage and project their legacy income.
As every finance director knows, gifts in wills are a vital source of income for hospices. According to the latest Hospice Accounts report, legacies represent one-fifth of total income, for both adult and children’s hospices. On average, UK hospices receive around £1m a year in legacy income – in some locations, it’s far more.
Our research shows that hospices have a natural emotional and practical connection with legacy donors, who want to give thanks for the outstanding support they or their loved ones have received. That gratitude – along with your strong local roots – gives you a unique advantage in the crowded legacy fundraising sector.
However, despite its importance, too little is known about what drives hospices’ legacy incomes. That’s not surprising when the value of gifts received can vary significantly from one year to the next, depending on whether (or not) you receive any large bequests. It’s often hard to disentangle the trends from the noise; to know if what you are experiencing is exceptional, normal or mediocre. That makes it difficult to plan your budgets and direct fundraising strategies.
Hospice Legacy Monitor has been designed to help finance and fundraising teams understand and project their legacy income. Based on our long-established flagship Legacy Monitor programme, it combines local hospice performance data with national market trends and forecasts.
In recognition of hospices’ smaller size – and budgets – Hospice Legacy Monitor offers a pared-back approach to benchmarking, focusing on key annual statistics along with indicators relating specifically to your cause and catchment. Our analysis includes the number, mix and value of legacies received, put into the context of other charities across the UK. For example, we can assess how hospices are faring compared to other health charities, and other local cause areas.
We also collect data on marketing spend and staffing levels to help you benchmark your capacity relative to your peers. Over many years of running the national Legacy Monitor programme, we’ve seen that being able to share experiences, ideas and network with fellow legacy professionals is integral, and Hospice Legacy Monitor will provide the space for you to do that, so shaping the direction of hospice legacy fundraising in the years to come.
Hospice Legacy Monitor builds on our experience of running a pilot with a consortium of south-eastern hospices back in 2017. The analysis revealed some surprising insights. While the group’s combined legacy income was growing faster than the legacy market overall, most of that growth was due to rising legacy values, buoyed by the strong south-eastern housing market. On the other hand, the number of gifts received was growing significantly more slowly than average (up by just 1.9 per cent p.a. versus 2.6 per cent p.a. across the market as a whole).
The study also highlighted the lack of fundraising capacity in the group. Even taking into account the hospices’ smaller size, pro rata staffing levels and spend was well below the national average. This appeared to be – at best – a lost opportunity and – at worst – a lost share too. In today’s ever more competitive legacy sector, with strong local players such as air ambulances, hospitals and wildlife trusts investing in legacy fundraising, hospices cannot afford to take their position for granted.
Princess Alice Hospice was instrumental in setting up this original benchmarking project. Chief Executive Nicki Shaw said afterwards; “The Board saw the evidence, the trend lines, the wider context. It was highly professional and ‘expert’ and led to increased confidence, bravery and recognition that it was ok to promote charitable giving in this way provided we did it appropriately.”
Elizabeth Palfreman, Head of Hospice Support at Hospice UK sums it up it neatly. “To me, the challenge is what legacy you will leave your hospice. Will you leave your organisation with a legacy pipeline which is strong and robust, with a strategy to keep gifts in wills flowing in? Or, will it be a ‘trust in fate’ scenario, hoping for occasional one-off ‘windfall’ donations to save the day?”.
The choice is in your hands.
For more information about the Hospice Legacy Monitor contact Meg Abdy. The deadline for signing up to the programme is Friday 24 May.