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Are you reporting on the important stuff?

On 12 February 2019 I was writing about how the way we’re reporting legacies is all wrong. Re-reading

On 12 February 2019 I was writing about how the way we’re reporting legacies is all wrong. Re-reading it made me cringe a little, it was obviously a sass-filled day 😬

Two years have passed since that post. Much more reading and professional development has happened for everyone. We’ve shifted much of how we operate to deal with the pandemic.

Have things evolved? Do most of the principles still apply? Let’s explore what has changed and what has stayed the same.


  • Most legacies happen in the future, but not all;
  • Between 55-65% of legacy gifts come from unknown individuals that never engaged with the charity;
  • Most donors are reluctant to notify the charity of their legacy pledge;
  • It’s still difficult to specifically correlate a particular marketing campaign to a legacy donation;
  • The pressure to report on legacies in the same way as other fundraising channels (investment today = result today);
  • Reporting only on income and number of donors.



Some organizations used to project legacy gifts using the 50% realization quote for pledgers (percentage of donors who follow through on their intention based on their pipeline stage). Following a great research study conducted by Dr. Russell James and Roewen Wishart in Australia, we now have more concrete realization quotas . 

According to their research 5% of enquirers will follow through on their intention, whereas 11% of intenders and 65% of pledgers do. That a whopping 54 point increase from intender to pledger! We cannot underestimate the importance of tracking and reporting this key performance indicator.


Moving forward


Here are a few metrics that could be part of the legacy report that bring value and don’t fall under the vanity metric category – meaning, they enable you to make business decisions about the legacy program. Of course, it’s up to you to decide which metrics are possible based on your systems.

  1. Prospect pool within your database (i.e.: supporters over the age of 55)
  2. Legacy lead acquisition and movement down the pipeline
  3. Measure pledge conversions from different pipeline stages (enquirer ⇒ pledger; considerer ⇒ pledger; intender ⇒ pledger)
  4. Efficiency metrics such as:
    • Number of leads / Pool volume
    • Total pledges / number of leads
    • Realized income / programme costs


With those metrics, you will gain insights that will enable you to identify areas of success and areas needing special attention while at the same time having a real view of your marketing efforts.

If you need help to develop a killer dashboard that integrates these and other metrics,

let’s talk and we can see how we can bring you a tailored solution.

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