Tuesday, 15 February 2011

What would legacy giving look like in Cameron’s Big Society?

Stop smoking. Drink less. Exercise more.

We’re bombarded with messages about how we should change our lifestyle.

But the Big Society debate is presenting another challenge: how can we achieve a culture change of giving?

The Giving Green Paper challenges the voluntary sector to find new ways of creating a society that is less reliant upon the state and more reliant on individuals’ support.

Take legacy fundraising, for example, which the Giving paper rightly singles out for “potential to go further”.

Almost three in four people in the UK support a charity in their lifetime. And yet, only 7% of us leave a charitable gift in our will.

Research by Remember A Charity shows that no single driver will create a culture change of legacy giving.

People’s circumstances vary widely, and the motivations and barriers driving legacy-giving decisions are diverse.

Any culture change campaign needs to be multi-faceted, employing a range of strategies and interventions.

The Green Paper’s focus on the percentage of legacy value going to friends and family compared with charity is not the big challenge.

It’s about creating a society where a gift to charity in a will is a normal thing to do.

In a bigger society, we could do more together to make this change.

There are arguably greater opportunities to promote will-giving where individuals interact with public services – from pensions to paternity leave.

Banks could be encouraged to do more in their branches on the benefits of giving to a favourite cause.

The private sector could support the legacy message through its charity of the year partnerships and with its staff.

Professional will-writers could also do more to actively promote the charity message. Less than a third currently do this.

Remember A Charity has made great progress in many of these areas over the past 10 years, developing partnerships in the legal and private sector.

By pooling our resources we have successfully built a consumer campaign that has stimulated change.

But in a bigger society that understands the collective role in creating a giving culture, there could be even bigger returns.

- Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity

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