Legacies are flourishing at Chiltern Open Air Museum
Flourish is a partnership between Chiltern Open Air Museum (COAM), Tring Local History Museum and the Great Western Society. It aims to help the three partners – and the wider museum sector – to become more resilient through diversifying their income and increasing their fundraising capacity. One of the pillars of the project is legacy giving, and COAM have whole-heartedly embraced the challenge of increasing their legacy income.
One of the first steps in the project was to redevelop the Museum’s legacy leaflet. Like many brochures, it shares some of the history of the Museum and stresses the importance of legacy giving to its future. However, a special thanks goes to Helen Light (Marketing Officer at Chiltern Open Air Museum) for producing a stunning Legacy booklet, which incorporates strong imagery, and harnesses the power of telling stories, vividly illustrating the real difference that legacies can make to people.
A brochure is only one tool for spreading the legacy message: ideally, it’s complemented by a range of opportunities to promote legacy giving, or as Rob Cope, from Remember a Charity has aptly put it, by being noisy about legacies.
Despite having relatively limited budget and time to dedicate to legacies specifically, Richard and Sue of COAM have done a great job of being noisy about legacy giving within the Museum.
Over the last year, they’ve run two legacy events for key stakeholders, in partnership with a local solicitor. The events begin with a brief, informal talk about Wills and legacies from a local solicitor, followed by a visit ‘behind the scenes’ of the Museum, where attendees can see and hear about some of the items (and even buildings!) in store. Sue notes that the time spent walking between buildings is a natural time for an informal chat about what people have seen and heard, when they often spontaneously share their thoughts on legacy giving. And, even where people can’t attend the event, the invite is often a spur to further conversation.
Legacies were also integrated into the Museum’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher made a pledge at the event, and encouraged the guests to do the same.
Since revising the programme, the Museum has received 9 legacy promises and several calls about legacy giving, and they estimate that the future income may be over six figures.
COAM’s work demonstrates the effectiveness of increasing the profile of legacy giving within an organisation. They show that, even with a small team and relatively little resource, giving people the opportunity to talk about legacies, to ask questions and to share their stories can pay dividends for the future.
Dr Claire Routley of Legacy Fundraising Ltd (and legacy consultant to the Flourish project)
Flourish is proud to offer three more fundraising project sharing days, offering those in the wider museum world and extending to charities outside the sector, to come together to hear about the learning within the project and share their own experiences.
We will be covering a range of topics, that include, major donor giving, corporate sponsorship, legacy campaigns, raising the matter of fundraising with volunteers and issues around running a membership scheme.
Dates: 10 March at Chiltern Open Air Museum (Newland Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4AB) 10.00 – 15.00
6 April at the Light Box, Chobham Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 4AA 10.30 – 15.00
4 May – Venue to be held at Torquay Museum
What Flourish Museum Partners are saying:
“After the great effort of opening the museum we could easily go on coasting but Flourish has energised Tring & District Local History & Museum Society into thinking of expanding and progressing. As a small museum it is very easy to think that we will go on being attractive because we are there but Flourish showed us that we needed to be creative about getting out into the community” Richard Tregonning of Tring Local History Museum
“The Flourish project has meant we have been able to run a motivational teambuilding event for our volunteers, which was very positively received and assisted in morale building at the Museum. Flourish has funded a much needed HR consultant, to assist us with our staff restructuring programme. We have also been able to employ the services of a leading fundraising expert in grant applications, which has given us an essential resource to put forward an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund” Ann Middleton of Didcot Railway (part of Great Western Society)
“Without the Arts Council’s support for this project, we would never have been able to employ the professional services of our excellent fundraising and volunteering consultants. We have learned a huge amount, about what our volunteers want from us, to help them in their support of our Museum. As a result of our consultations, we now appreciate that our volunteers want to be regularly informed about what is going on, to know what we need to raise for our projects, to how our income is derived and the make-up and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees. The key change as a result has been the new Director’s coffee mornings for volunteers presenting the Museum’s finances and future plans and offering opportunities for discussion and volunteer consultation. Volunteers already support the organisation in so many different ways, giving so much of their time every year, to the maintenance of our heritage buildings and making vital repairs and improvement to our site. They give generously in donations (in many cases anonymously); as a result of the coffee mornings and survey and workshops, we have learned that volunteers prefer not to be asked directly for financial contributions, but they do want to know about the financial needs of the organisation so that they can decide how to help for themselves. Our new monthly bulletins make sure they are informed about each department’s achievements and their future plans”. Sue Shave Museum Director at Chiltern Open Air Museum