Marketing to the deceased could cost fundraisers £267 million despite legacy donations being at an all-time high

Following the ICO’s ruling that many charities are contravening the Data Protection Act through their use of wealth screening, data appending and data matching; fundraising professionals were due a bit of good news. And here it is - in the form of a spike in legacy gifting. Over the past 12 months legacy donations have risen by 10 per cent amounting to £143million in additional bequests.

The growth has been attributed to the higher death rate experienced in 2016 (see our earlier blog for further information) and a better-than-feared economic performance post Brexit.

On average 43 per cent of people intend to leave money for charities in their will; the most popular amount falling between the £100 and £499 mark; consequently legacy gifting is an important fundraising stream for charities. However, our research reveals that 66 per cent of people would stop all form of donations if a charity communicated (albeit accidentally) with a loved one who had passed away. The same study shows that 55 per cent of people have received some form of charity marketing in the name of a deceased friend or relative in the past year – consequently if 66 per percent  of the 55 per cent of people that have received marketing materials were to write the charity out of their will this could cost fundraisers £267 million in cancelled bequests. A figure not to be sniffed at.

To stop marketing to people that have passed away it is crucial to ensure that donor databases are screened against a deceased suppression file such as Mortascreen on a regular basis – at least on a per campaign basis. It could quite literally save millions.