11 October 2017

Farewill: the struggle of working with non-profits

Charities are potentially vital clients for Farewill. However, they’re typically resistant to commercial opportunities.

Farewill wants to shake up will writing by making it fast and cheap. But people still seem to need an incentive to write a will: it’s estimated 40% of people die without one in the UK. Partnerships with charities are one way to encourage them.

Parting gifts

People bequeathing their assets to charity when they die generates millions. In 2016, Cancer Research raised £169m through wills. Farewill wants to get in on this. It’s asking charities to pay the £45 fee on behalf of the person making the will, with the proposition that the charity will benefit through a donation when the person dies. However, Dan Garrett, co-founder of Farewill, believes charities find it ‘distasteful’ to discuss deals and money-making.

Data sharing

To remedy this, Farewill has tried to entice charities by giving monthly updates on how much has been pledged via the platform, to help them with financial forecasts.

It’s also started approaching charities it’s not working with to tell them how much has already been pledged to them on the platform, with the lure of larger amounts if they work together.

‘We put [charities’ logos on the website] so we can turn up at their front door and say, “We’ve made you half a million, let’s work together”,’ Garrett explains. ‘We’ve made £450,000 for Mind and we’re not even working with them.’

The meetings haven’t always gone to plan, however. ‘We had one [meeting] with Amnesty where we said, “We’ve made you £700,000 just by putting your logo on the site”,’ he explains. Amnesty’s reaction was a shock: ‘“Did you have permission to use that?”’

Insight: Charities have a more complex set of objectives and standards than a typical company. However, they are huge organisations and potentially large clients for small firms.

First appeared in issue 19 Oct/Nov