Welcome to our February 2020 Monthly Briefing

This month:

  • The Road Ahead – 20 things for charities to think about in 2020
  • How wills can be challenged and how charities can manage legacy disputes
  • E-mail Fundraising – How to create emails that are sure to be read
  • Charity events calendar 2020 – call for entries


The Road Ahead – 20 things for charities to think about in 2020

Elizabeth Chamberlain is head of policy and public services at NCVO. She has outlined these 20 points of interest which, in her opinion, organisations should be thinking about this year.

  1. Brexit will be far from over, even after we formally leave the European Union (EU) later this week. Much time and attention will be directed to the detail of post-Brexit policy.
  2. But the domestic agenda will start to open up, providing an opportunity to reignite the debate on issues that are not necessarily Brexit related.
  3. The nature of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will influence the health of the economy.
  4. One key challenge, which will continue to confront the UK economy, is poor labour productivity.
  5. The rise in the minimum wage “while positive” will mean higher wage bills.
  6. Large scale transformation programmes will continue at pace in different parts of the public sector, including the development of primary care networks and integrated care systems, and changes to the National Probation Service and the Courts and Tribunals Service.
  7. The number of people giving to charity is showing signs of decline.
  8. The culture of philanthropic giving is coming under scrutiny.
  9. The UK population as a whole is ageing, but there is a growing disparity between ageing in rural and coastal areas compared with cities.
  10. Increasingly people are working until later in life, a trend that is likely to continue with the decline of defined-benefit pension schemes and the increase in life expectancy.
  11. There is strong evidence that Britain has become polarised in terms of Brexit affiliations, which split people far more than their political identity.
  12. But on other issues facing the country, evidence suggests that many aspects of attitudes and identity in the UK are converging.
  13. Latest polls suggest a decrease in the country’s sense of wellbeing, and a weakening of social connections.
  14. More and more ways of ‘doing good’ are emerging, with people wanting to get involved in decentralised and networked ways, and self-organising around causes and issues.
  15. There is also an increasing preference for opportunities that are flexible and quick to start.
  16. Younger generations are cause-led and ‘sector agnostic’, so open to getting involved in multiple initiatives with the same goal.
  17. Concern over the environment is at its highest level since 2010, and the sense of urgency to find solutions to the climate challenge is heightening.
  18. Cyber-crime will continue to be a huge risk, and email fraud is predicted to become even more sophisticated.
  19. Technology is being used as a tool to distribute power, sometimes disrupting institutions that previously held the monopoly over resources and influence.
  20. One of the biggest buzzwords of the 2000s ‘big data’ will continue to make headlines. But while storing data might be easier, generating insights from data could be more challenging.


How wills can be challenged and how charities can manage legacy disputes

Figures released last year to mark the tenth “Remember a Charity” Week suggest that the number of people leaving gifts to charities in their will has increased markedly year on year since the campaign started 10 years ago and according to the Telegraph, smaller charities are said to be benefiting more than larger better-known organisations.

Regardless of the size of charity, it is important to tread carefully in the event of a will dispute. Whilst the principle of testamentary freedom is well established in English law, legacy disputes are ever-increasing and charities often feel the force of disgruntled family members seeking to challenge a will, particularly on the grounds that it is invalid or that the family member was financially dependent on the deceased and adequate financial provision has not been made for them.

Challenges to wills

The validity of a will can be challenged on any of the following grounds:

  1. That it has not been correctly executed (it must be in writing and signed by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses and then be signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the person making the will);
  2. That the deceased lacked the necessary mental capacity;
  3. That the deceased did not have knowledge and approval of the contents of a Will;
  4. That the deceased was subject to undue influence;
  5. Or that the Will is forged/fraudulent.

How can charities manage these disputes?

  1. Early legal advice is always recommended and will ensure the charity is best placed to see off weak claims at the earliest possible opportunity at minimum cost.
  2. Early collaboration with other charities benefiting under a will can also be useful (but always be mindful of a potential conflict).
  3. Appropriate delegated authorities should be put in place by the Trustees to those responsible for legacy management to ensure that they are able to deal appropriately with any situation that might arise.
  4. Information is key therefore requesting a copy of the deceased’s will and related information is a likely first step, but all written correspondence must be handled with care.
  5. Always be mindful of negative PR implications and ensure that this aspect is carefully managed in parallel with any wider consideration of a potential dispute.

Legacy funds are a key source of funds for charities, big or small and knowledge is the first step in seeking to ensure that they are best protected.

E-mail Fundraising – How to create emails that are sure to be read

Just as with Direct Marketing, there are rules for creating emails that have a high chance of being read. The design of your email will immediately determine whether or not someone who opens the email will be willing to read it. And, of course, unless they are read, they won’t be acted on. The key components are:

  • An interesting subject line. Research published by Mailchimp, one of the largest distributors of 3rd party emails in the world, shows that subject lines are crucial and must be based on genuine content only – no sales flannel.
  • Address the reader by name
  • A strong opening sentence and paragraph
  • Short sentences and a punchy style that feels easy and quick to read
  • HTML rather than text for ease of layout and visual appeal, with the facility to send plain text emails to people whose computers can’t read HTML.

In layout terms, it pays to have all the most attractive points in the top half of the first page, as the lower part will be out of sight when the reader first opens the email.

Testing in preparation for the launch
Before launching your first campaign, it will pay to do a test run both internally to colleagues and then externally to a sample of the database.

Internal testing
The object here is to make sure the whole system works, including all links and that embarrassing mistakes are avoided. It is surprisingly easy to overlook mis-spellings, especially in headlines and people’s names. It is also worth testing how your email looks when delivered via several different ISPs, such as AOL, Yahoo, Outlook etc.

External testing
An external test to a sample of the database will help evaluate likely response rates, or even to test the relative effectiveness of several candidate subject lines, headlines etc. This is particularly helpful if the campaign is likely to generate responses such as requests for information packs which need sending out. The test can gauge the resources needed.

Charity events calendar 2020 – call for entries

Charities of all sizes are being invited to add their events to the UK’s most comprehensive list of fundraising and awareness events for 2020 – the ChangeStar Charity Calendar.

The calendar is managed by the fundraising and social change agency ChangeStar, and provides a free way for charities to promote their events online to the public.

Charities can list up to five events completely free of charge. You can also take out a Featured Listing or Advert, which could help you reach more people.


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