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Ask the Expert Q&A 15 December Developing legacy giving programmes with Michael Turnpenny

Michael Turnpenny will be answering your questions on legacy giving in museums on Monday 15th December 3-4pm GMT.


Museum Development Yorkshire wants to support museums across Yorkshire to manage their resources, look after their collections and provide services to their audiences in ways that meet or exceed recognised standards within the museum sector.

A key element of our work over the past three years has been to support museums to find new ways of making money so that they become more resilient organisations.  We believe that legacy fundraising has huge potential for the sector and that more museums should develop expertise in this area.

Many organisations receive legacies passively – they are a pleasant surprise when they arrive!  We think there are a few simple steps to actively encourage supporters to remember museums in their will.  This includes developing structures and communications to stimulate and effectively manage legacies.

Museum Development Yorkshire has published a ‘how to’ guide on legacy giving for use by museums in Yorkshire.  This was been produced for Museum Development Yorkshire by Development Partners with additional input from the National Trust and Rollits LLP.  This guide is available without charge to museums in Yorkshire and the Humber from http://bit.ly/1nEqXYa

Disclaimer: Michael is a museum professional.  Any information provided is for general guidance and should not be considered legal or financial advice.  You should consult your qualified and accredited professional adviser if you require legal or financial advice.

You can post questions before the Q & A session, on 15 December, or you can converse in real time with our expert. You can use the comment box below to post a question, or you can use twitter with the hashtag #mdyask.

Comments have to be moderated, to protect the blog from spam, so if your comment doesn’t appear straight away, don’t worry. We’ll get to it as quickly as we can.

If you have a problem submitting questions, either in the comment box, or via twitter, please email your questions to gillian.waters@ymt.org.uk

If you have ideas for subjects you’d like to see us cover in future, or would like to take questions yourself, please get in contact with us and let us know.

Your Comments

  1. Gillian Waters |

    How are legacies different from other forms of individual giving?

  2. Michael Turnpenny |

    In many ways legacies are no different to other types of fundraising – you still need to be ‘fundraising fit’.

    The key differences are around:
    * Motivation – Leaving a gift in a will is a bit like a personal memorial. It will reflect things that are important to the legator (donor). Your museum needs to think about this.
    * Timescale – You don’t get the money straight away! And of course the legator might change their mind. So, you need to build a bank of legators before the income can become reliable. That might take 10 years.
    * Sensitivity – Legacies are about death so you need to be sensitive in all conversations. You also need to be sensitive about how to mark the gift – some people will want to be celebrated within life and after death, others will want to give silently.

  3. Gillian Waters |

    How long do legacies usually take in museums?

    1. Mike Linstead |

      @MDTurnpenny says “It is really hard to say – it depends on the people leaving the legacy. I think an average of 7-10 years”.

  4. Michael Turnpenny |

    How long do legacies take to come in?

    It is really hard to say – it depends on the people leaving the legacy. I think an average of 7-10 years. A large fundraising organisations which changed its approach to legacies saw a variation in income after about 10 years.

  5. Michael Turnpenny |

    Are legacies about long term planning?

    They are about managing long term relationships and being prepared.

    However, some legacies will be unexpected, so your museum needs to be able to respond quickly in the event of an approach from an executor.

  6. Gillian Waters |

    Clare McLeod ‏@IntermezzoArts asks “How would you advertise legacy giving within museums?”

    1. Mike Linstead |

      @MDTurnpenny says ” Make it easy to know who to talk to. And be clear about your policy…Tailor your message to the prospect – trustees receive board papers, supporters get your newsletter..Include legacies as part of your overall support message. Include information on your website…I would go for leaflets so people can take the information away and think it through. Any leaflet should have contact details for your staff/volunteer who manages legacies. And if your museum doesn’t have a lead person for legacies – find one! Relationships matter”

  7. Gillian Waters |

    Clare McLeod ‏@IntermezzoArts · asks “Are there certain areas which work better for talking about people leaving legacies to Museums?”

  8. Gillian Waters |

    Clare McLeod @IntermezzoArts asks “Are you talking about income or objects. I think more people think in terms of objects for legacy”

    1. Mike Linstead |

      @MDTurnpenny says “Good point – I think you need to be clear about both. And be prepared to talk to legators about objects that do not fit with your collection. But care is needed not to be put in an improper situation or be seen to exert undue influence… And be prepared to talk to legators about objects that do not fit with your collection…But care is needed not to be put in an improper situation or be seen to exert undue influence …And please don’t expect your local solicitor to recommend your museum to their clients.”

  9. Rachel Wade |

    Can an individual specify what their legacy will be used for? E.g. if they wanted it to go towards a particular collection, site or even object? And how does a museum subsequently deal with such a specification?

    1. Mike Linstead |

      @MDTurnpenny says “Yes, many people like to know what their gift will do. You will want to keep it as open as possible. You could create a small number of ring-fenced but broad funds e.g. conservation, education etc. If a legacy is too restrictive a museum can talk to the executor – it might not be appropriate to accept”

  10. Donavon Slaven |

    How do you go about creating a legacy givingpolicy in museums?

  11. Gillian Waters |

    If you would like to follow the conversation on twitter here is a storify link http://sfy.co/ptJ7

  12. Michael Turnpenny |

    If any museum has a query that they would like to follow up with Museum Development Yorkshire, please get in touch.

    Contact details are available at