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Case study: Spreading the legacy message in Marie Curie

Marie Curie is one of the UK’s largest national charities, providing care and support for people living with any terminal illness, and their families.

They’ve been carrying out this vital work for over 65 years – and last year alone cared for over 40,000 people across the UK.


In 2015 Marie Curie Cancer Care rebranded and became Marie Curie, marking a shift in their focus from supporting end of life care for people with cancer,
to providing care and support for people living with any terminal illness.

Marie Curie fundraiser

In parallel with this internal change, in the external fundraising market legacy giving in the UK was increasing, with predictions that the increase was
set to continue.

Together, the new brand and the national trend, presented an unmissable opportunity for Marie Curie to refresh their approach to legacy fundraising and
substantially increase this important funding stream.

In order to do this the legacy team wanted to reach as many supporters as possible as quickly as possible with their message. But there were two challenges.
First, with only six Advisors in the team – one in each region across the UK – they needed help from other fundraisers in Marie Curie to get their
message out. Second, these fundraisers were experiencing barriers in spreading the word – not feeling they knew enough about legacies to talk about
them, or not feeling confident to make the ask with their supporters on the ground.

=mc’s Brief

So Marie Curie’s legacy fundraising team approached The Management Centre (=mc) to help them design and deliver a workshop for community
fundraisers that would help to break down these barriers and energise them to spread the legacy message with their supporters.

Marie Curie Cancer Care

What we did

Working in partnership with the legacy team, =mc designed a half day workshop that would:

  • increase the confidence of community fundraisers to talk about gifts in wills
  • explain what types of gifts in wills there are and why they are important to Marie Curie
  • clarify how and when to talk about gifts in wills to supporters
  • ensure fundraisers understood their role in helping to spread the legacy message, and when to involve a Legacy Advisor
  • provide clear messages for community fundraisers to use
  • share some practical tools and techniques to help to share the legacy message and make the legacy ask
  • direct community fundraisers to further resources to support their conversations with supporters

In May 2015 =mc delivered eight ‘Gifts in Wills & You’ workshops, in partnership with the regional Legacy Advisor, to Marie Curie’s
entire community fundraising team across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The immediate response from participants was hugely positive, with an overall evaluation score of 95%.

And since then key results have been:

  • increased legacy material requests from every region
  • increased requests for the legacy team to attend fundraising events and activities by community fundraisers
  • increased activity by community fundraisers reported to Legacy Advisors
  • the addition of a specific objective in the departmental operational plan for Heads of region
  • the addition of an objective to community fundraising job descriptions referencing their role in talking about gifts in wills
  • the introduction of an award for ‘Best Legacy Fundraiser’ in community fundraising to recognise contributions in helping to spread the word
  • improved gifts in wills online training resource, which all new starters now have to complete
  • editorials in two papers, and six additional enquiries for articles on Marie Curie’s Free Wills Scheme to date
  • creative links made between teams, to support the communication of the legacy message through existing fundraising activity

During the programme’s evaluation participants cited increased confidence as one of the main outcomes and an increased understanding of their role in spreading
the legacy message.

“As a result of the programme, I have added legacy fundraising to our community fundraising job descriptions and am keen to find new ways to keep the legacy
giving profile high. Some of the approaches introduced, are also great best practice for fundraising asks more generally”

Mark Winton, Head of Community Fundraising UK

“The training has been ground-breaking and has had a huge impact on how we work with our colleagues in regional fundraising. We are now working with =mc to look at a similar programme of work to support our High Value team in helping to spread our legacy message.”

Nigel Gorvett, Legacy Development Manager

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Philly Graham

About Philly Graham

Philly specialises in communications, leadership and management development and personal effectiveness. She is an accredited coach, action learning set facilitator and a CIPD Learning and Development Associate. Philly’s career...