Exclusive Interview with the new Director of Consulting at Legacy Voice

This summer, Chris Millward joined the Legacy Voice team as the new Director of Consulting. An industry leader in the UK charity sector, he has a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills for creating awareness and ultimately growing legacy giving.

With over a decade of expertise in managing charity legacy fundraising and administration, Chris has worked for an array of well-known reputable organisations and charities in the industry.

Chris was previously a Chief Executive Officer for Institute of Legacy Management (ILM), the professional body for charity legacy administrators in the UK for 3 years. He led the best practice guidance for legacy administration which put donors at the heart of the giving process and ensuring every legacy gift achieves its potential.

Prior to ILM, Chris had influential roles within the legacy teams at Save the Children and Macmillan Cancer Support. He has also been the Chair of Will Aid and a member of both the Institute of Fundraising’s Special Interest Group for Legacies and In Memory Committee and Remember a Charity’s Campaign Council.

Chris also used his experience within the sector to write the Marketing Strategy chapter for the fourth edition of the Directory for Social Change’s Legacy and In Memory fundraising guide.

His passion for charity legacy fundraising means his ultimate mission is to encourage generations to experience the joy they will get from legacy giving and to assist charities and professionals in the Will-writing industry with the relevant skills and knowledge to help make this happen.

Below, Chris talks about how he got into charity legacy fundraising, how private client professionals can influence legacy giving, what changes he has seen in the sector, future predictions of legacy giving and his impending changes he hopes to achieve in his role at Legacy Voice…

How did you get into charity legacy fundraising management?

I was made redundant from Sainsbury’s Supermarkets (where I’d been for 6 years) in 2006.  After looking at similar roles, I decided to broaden my horizons and look at jobs in the charity sector.  I registered with an agency called ‘The Kage Partnership’, and the rest, as they say, is history.  My first job was as a Regional Legacy Promotions Officer for Macmillan.  A face-to-face role working with fundraisers to help build knowledge, skills and confidence to support the promotion of legacy giving across my ‘patch’ in London, Anglia and the South East (LASER).  Despite my lack of charity, fundraising or legacy specific knowledge, they took a chance on me – I’ll be eternally grateful for that.

Did you have a mentor when you were starting out? What’s the single most important thing they taught you?

The simple answer is no. But, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some inspirational leaders and to work for an organisation that supported my personal and professional development.  I’ve very much learnt my trade ‘on the job’ thanks to the responsibility and autonomy that I was given in my early years. Several years later, whilst in my role at Save the Children, I was lucky enough to take part in the pilot for the Institute of Fundraising’s Future Leaders’ programme.  This helped me to develop both the technical, but arguably even more important, softer skills to support my future career.  My role as CEO at the Institute of Legacy Management reconfirmed to me that most often it’s not what we know that makes the difference but how we go about things.  I believe it’s important that we understand the reasons why we do something, rather than just the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of day to day.  Starting from this more inspirational place with unified purpose is much more powerful and allows us as individuals and organisations to be and achieve our very best. See Simon Sinek’s website startwithwhy.com for more on this.

What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into this sector?

My life was at a crossroads in 2006.  At the same time as I’d applied for the job at Macmillan, I’d also applied for a marketing job with EDF Energy in Brighton.  My life would have gone in a very different direction if I hadn’t got the job with Macmillan.  Like most people at some time in their life, when I left Sainsbury’s, unmotivated by ‘putting cans of beans on the shelf to line shareholders’ pockets’, I guess I was searching for some sort of purpose.  I’d love to say it has all been part of some big plan, but the reality is, I’ve simply made the most of the opportunities that have been presented to me.  Sometimes that’s been through formal training, other times through taking on extra responsibilities or additional roles, such as the Chair of Will Aid, to learn new skills and to help the sector in a different way. My current role as Director of Consulting at Legacy Voice is a great opportunity to use my knowledge, skills and experience (gathered over a decade – is it really that long?) to help the charity sector. It may never have been planned, but I’m very happy with the things I’ve done along the way and where I’ve ended up.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in charity legacy fundraising?

My Regional Legacy Promotions Officer role at Macmillan was one of the first of its kind. Since then there’s been an explosion in legacy giving related roles. Charities, more than ever, are now taking legacy giving and its transformative power for individuals, organisations and beneficiaries seriously.  As with other areas of fundraising, over time, we’ve developed a more donor centric approach.  This is all the more vital with legacy giving given the very personal nature of the considerations that sit at the heart of it.  The rise of Will writing as a tool for legacy conversations is another big shift that I have seen in my time.  Although CRUK has had a Will writing scheme for years, most other charities were slow to follow.  The arrival of digital has really pushed forward activity in this space.  Disruptors such as FareWill and Bequeathed have recognised an opportunity and are making great progress against the incumbent solicitors and other Will writers in this space.  Although I welcome anything that has the potential to increase access to Will writing and the number of people leaving gifts in their Wills, I think we need to remain mindful of quality to ensure the ‘checks and balances’ required to produce a good quality Will are maintained so that donor’s wishes are accurately reflected and the Wills written stand the test of time.

What’s been the biggest challenge(s) you have faced?

Being a legacy fundraiser has never been easy.  Historically,there’s been a perpetual sense of, ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ as one doggedly seeks to sway internal opinion, secure resource, encourage collaboration, demonstrate impact, communicate sensitively, inspire donors, build positive working relationships with next of kin, Executors and solicitors, add value etc…

Thankfully, things are changing and organisations are taking legacy giving more seriously. We’ve still got a long way to go, but, recognition of the potential value, great ROI and the often unrestricted nature of gifts; increasing evidence of the effectiveness of investment in legacy giving; a ground shift from fundraising to stewardship (something legacy giving has always had at its heart given its long term nature) and a greater appreciation of the professionalism and value added by good legacy administration professionals are all starting to help.

How can Solicitors/Will-writing professionals influence legacy giving?

Evidence has shown that solicitors and others involved in Will writing have a critical role to play in influencing legacy giving.  Simply asking clients (or promoting online) if they would like to support a charity in their Will uplifts gifting by 50%.  Asking in the right way, as the research undertaken by the Remember a Charity Campaign and the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights team showed, even more so.  But, prompting around charity giving is not universal amongst Will writers.  Many do not see it as their role, and those who do often struggle to find the words to raise the issue sensitively.  A couple of years back Penningtons Manches LLP undertook research to better understand the critical relationship between solicitors and legacy professionals.  Subsequently, the Remember a Charity Campaign facilitated a round table discussion at the Law Society with key stakeholders.  It would be great to find ways to help solicitors and charity legacy professionals better understand each other’s concerns and to find practical solutions to ensure everyone writing a Will has the opportunity to experience the joy of legacy giving; and its full potential be realised.

How can Solicitors/Will-writing professionals best approach legacy giving to their clients? What questions should they be asking their clients?

If we could get every solicitor or Will writer to ask their clients if they wished to support a charity in their Will that would be a great start.  At present, only 7 in 10 always or sometimes prompt around legacy giving.  As with all other approaches to legacy giving, this isn’t about making a direct ask, but about prompting a conversation that allows people to consider the idea.  So, it’s not about making an ‘ask’ but about ensuring the subject is covered, as opposed to not mentioned at all, during the Will writing process.  My personal view is that a solicitor who doesn’t mention charitable giving – given the potential tax benefits/implications, is being somewhat negligent in their duties.  That said, I know the 30% who never or rarely prompt would disagree!  Death is a taboo, and conversations about end of life often a subject many avoid.  That said, end of life planning is critical and the writing of a Will plays a vital part in that process.  There are also wider more positive benefits for the individual – as highlighted in the recent Literature Review, ‘Everything we know about legacy giving in 2018’, Commissioned by Legacy Voice, undertaken by Dr Claire Routley and Professor Adrian Sargeant:

  • 75% of the population are actively motivated to die with a positive net worth and leave something behind for future generations.
  • Legacy giving is proven to be good for you. Particularly later in life, it helps people age well, to find a new sense of purpose and even increases self-esteem.

Death isn’t a taboo we will ever overcome, but we do need to reframe the discussion around end of life and legacy giving to better highlight the positive emotional benefits alongside the more functional ones.

What professional achievement are you most proud of over your career?

Being interviewed on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show for the Institute of Legacy Management on the Supreme Court ruling in Ilott v Mitson.  The culmination of several years work to reestablish ILMs profile, credibility and authority. Also, the product of having reviewed the way in which as an organisation we talked about legacy giving – informed by our vision, ‘to ensure every generous donor’s final wishes achieve their greatest potential’ – allowing us to have broader relevance and to speak on behalf of donors and beneficiaries – rather than in the more tightly defined legal/technical space we had historically. This also allowed us to progress one of our key mission statements, namely to speak out on behalf of our members, charities and the wider sector.  Something that just wouldn’t have been possible when I became CEO in 2015.

Looking to the future how do you see charity legacy giving changing over the next 5 years?

I believe we are at a critical moment for charity legacy giving.  As the baby boomer generation begins to die and the once in a lifetime intergenerational transfer of their wealth begins to take place, we have a choice as to whether we are going to be good or great at legacy fundraising.

With more donors, leaving more money, to more charities than ever before, this presents a huge opportunity. But, there’s a major problem we need to overcome.  With 70% of people supporting a charity during their lifetime, 35% saying they would actively consider leaving a gift in their Will, yet only 6% actually doing so, how can charities better engage, inspire and steward supporters to allow the full potential of legacy giving – and the positive impact for donors, fundraisers and charity beneficiaries – to be realised?

The legacy gifts that supporters leave are a reflection and celebration of their lives; shaped by their experiences and values, legacy donors choose to leave their mark by remembering the people and charities that mattered to them most in their lifetime.

People give in this way because it makes them feel happier. Legacy giving brings a unique value to people; by improving self-esteem, giving a renewed sense of purpose and value to people towards the end of life

Our mission – should we choose to accept it –  is to inspire and empower generations to experience the joy of legacy giving; to help equip charities, solicitors  and others with the skills they need to help this generosity to flourish and to ensure no life story goes unwritten, every lifetime is valued and celebrated, and the transformative potential of legacy giving is fully realised.

You have recently started a new position as Director of Consulting with Legacy Voice, what changes, if any, are you hoping to implement for the future of legacy fundraising?

For everyone to feel the joy of legacy giving and for its true transformative potential to be realised, Legacy Voice believes that the following issues need to be addressed:

  • A lack of awareness of the ability to leave a gift to charity – or how to do so
  • The persistent taboo and lack of salience around the subject of death
  • A lack of knowledge in terms of the positive benefits of legacy giving
  • A lack of organisational buy-in, knowledge or support to help nurture the opportunity
  • An undue focus on tactics and process, rather than strategy, people and inspiration
  • A lack of skills and knowledge on the part of charity employees and Will writing professionals to be able to inspire and engage generations of supporters in the subject, or to take care of and optimise the value of gifts during the estate administration process.

Our mission is to:

  • Inspire and empower generations to experience the joy of legacy giving
  • To equip charities and others with the skills they need to be effective legacy fundraisers
  • To ensure donor’s generosity is valued and optimised at the end of their life

We can help the sector unlock the true potential of legacy giving by supporting it to:

  • Identify unique, donor-centred insight to ensure their legacy programme is based on evidence and relevant to their organisation
  • Create a compelling legacy proposition to inspire their supporters and help them stand out in a crowded market
  • Provide solutions to enhance internal engagement and create a culture where legacy giving can thrive
  • Establishing new, or review existing, strategies to focus efforts and resources to achieve the greatest return on investment
  • Providing tailored training to empower staff to have more effective legacy conversations
  • Increase the impact of gifts left to charity through our legacy administration service
  • Increase the capacity of legacy teams with short term support from our network of legacy consultants, to keep income pipelines flowing through busy times or during gaps in recruitment



Rate this article:

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *