Charities are making “basic mistakes” in the way they communicate with potential legacy donors, according to recent research based on mystery shopping findings.

Legacy consortium Legacy Foresight researched the top 50 legacy charities as part of a project called Legacy Inspire, in partnership with specialist consultancy Legacy Voice, which focused on legacy brochures and the wider supporter experience.

It found that one in 10 charities failed to respond to requests for further information, while some made other “basic” mistakes, such as misspelling names or delaying sending out literature.

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for the consortium told the Civil Society website: “Legacy Foresight’s recent research revealed that on average only 40 per cent of pledgers and 5 per cent of prospects go on to leave a bequest; in an increasingly crowded market, effective stewardship is essential to convert more interest into action.”

As part of its research it also scored the charities’ brochures according to a range of criteria, including design, clarity of information and the extent to which they encouraged people to make a gift. It added that charities’ literature needed to recognise that potential donors were “buying into the long-term vision and mission of the organisation, embracing the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’.”

Claire Routley, head of consultancy at Legacy Voice, added: “The legacy brochure is… a great opportunity – and sometimes the only opportunity – to inspire people with the potential of legacy giving.

“It can share the impact gifts in wills can make to the organisation, and, just as importantly, how legacy giving can meet [a person’s] need to make a difference to a cause that mattered to them and carry on their influence, long into the future.”