New study finds lega­cy giv­ing has gained ground beyond boomer generation

In 2023, Lega­cy Fore­sight report­ed that lega­cy giv­ing is one of the largest sources of vol­un­tary income for UK char­i­ties, rais­ing £4 bil­lion annu­al­ly. With fig­ures like those it is no sur­prise that more and more char­i­ties are work­ing to strength­en their lega­cy pro­grammes. But, what are the lat­est trends in lega­cy giv­ing? These new find­ings from Remem­ber A Charity’s long-run­ning bench­mark­ing study pro­vide vital insights for fundrais­ers — keep read­ing to find out more.

Written by
Remember A Charity
April 24, 2024

Now, more than ever, charities are looking to boost their legacy income. And if you work in legacies, it’s important to keep up to date on the ‘state of the nation’.

Fortunately, for the last 14 years there has been a useful benchmarking study* that helps you to do just that. Commissioned by Remember A Charity and carried out by independent research firm OKO, it surveys more than 2,000 charity donors aged 40+. The study tracks legacy giving attitudes and behaviour year-on-year and follows Prochaska’s Stages of Change model. It looks at long-term forward movement in legacy giving from awareness through to preparation and action.

This year’s results were published last week, and we’re pleased to see that there’s plenty of positive news for legacy fundraisers.

Is public appetite for legacy giving on the rise?

The findings show that the public appetite for legacy giving is increasing, with more than one in five charity donors (21 per cent) aged 40 and over saying they have included a charitable gift in a will. This is up from one in seven (14 per cent) in 2010, according to Remember A Charity’s annual consumer tracking study. Over the same period, rejection of legacy giving has dropped from 13 per cent to nine per cent.

Figures from 2023 found that supporters with a will in their 40s and 50s are most likely to have pledged a legacy gift – with almost four in ten (37 per cent) having included a charity. This compares with around one quarter (27 per cent) of those aged over 60.

Legacy pledgers are also more likely to be single and without children or grandchildren. Pledger rates are highest amongst those who are affluent, aware of the inheritance tax incentives and who have sought professional advice for their finances.

Three quarters of supporters (77 per cent) say they would be willing to leave a small percentage of their estate to charity, with more than one in ten (13 per cent) saying they would be open to leaving 10 per cent or more of their estate.

Lucinda Frostick, director of Remember A Charity – the consortium of charities working to grow the UK legacy giving market – welcomes these findings:

‘The study shows the long-term positive shift in legacy giving attitudes and behaviour, and that the propensity for giving in this way is gaining ground beyond the baby boomer generation, particularly for those in their 40s and 50s. This indicates that there’s great potential for continued growth of the legacy market, but it also stresses the importance of supporter stewardship.
‘Legacy income is crucial for an increasing number of charities. While we can’t impact the economic environment that drives legacy values, we can positively influence the proportion of people choosing to leave a gift; by working together, and engaging with legal partners, Government and others to make legacy giving a social norm.’

What are the most recent will-writing trends?

The findings of this year’s study show an incremental rise in will-writing, with almost two thirds (64 per cent) of supporters having written a will. This is up from 63 per cent in 2022 and 62 per cent in 2021. Of those with a will in place, almost one third (31 per cent) have included a legacy donation, up from 29 per cent in 2022. Around three in ten (29 per cent) pledgers added charities when making changes to an existing will.

The average age when first making a will is 51 years, although more affluent individuals are more likely to write their will at a younger age. Key life stages, such as births, deaths and marriage are the main triggers for will-writing, with the death of a loved one featuring more heavily for younger will-making, and retirement a common trigger for older will-makers.

Professional advisers continue to play a key role in will-writing with almost six in ten supporters (57 per cent) saying they have used or would use a solicitor to write their will and 17 per cent a professional will-writer. Free will schemes are more likely to appeal to younger and less affluent audiences.

Additional findings include:

  • 64 per cent of legacy pledgers haven’t let charities know they have included a gift;
  • Of those, almost half (47 per cent) say it never occurred to them to tell the charity;
  • And for 25 per cent of them, they can’t see how it would help to let the charities know;
  • The biggest barrier to leaving a gift in a will for supporters is that they want to leave everything to family or friends (63 per cent).

If you found this information useful and would like to know more about the study, please contact Remember A Charity. The full report is available to charities who are members of the Remember A Charity consortium**.

*OKO, Legacy Giving Consumer Benchmark Study

Commissioned by Remember A Charity, the consumer benchmark study explores the public’s attitudes to legacy giving, with regular surveys carried out since 2009. The latest survey was carried out by OKO in December 2023; an online survey of 2,001 charity supporters across the UK, aged 40+. The research has been carried out by OKO since 2021, and nfpSynergy before that.

The tracking study, which follows Prochaska’s Stages of Change model, shows forward movement over 14 years from donors’ active rejection of leaving a gift in their will and lack of awareness through to awareness, contemplation, preparation and action (leaving a gift). The Stages of Change model features six levels: rejection of leaving a gift in their will; pre-contemplation unaware – those who have never thought about it and are not sure if they would consider it, pre-contemplation aware – those who have thought about it and given it low consideration; contemplation – those who know about it and would consider leaving a gift; preparation – those who intend to give; and action – those who have already included a gift in their will.

NB. A small number of respondents don't fall into any group (i.e., those who say they’re not sure if they've thought about and wouldn't consider leaving a gift in their will, plus those who haven't thought about it but say they would consider leaving a gift and/or intend to do so) and are excluded from the analysis and results from the other groups prorated to 100 per cent.

**In 2000, Remember A Charity was established
as a consortium of charities working to inspire more people to consider leaving a gift to charity in their will. Now with almost 200 charity members, the campaign works with the Government, the legal profession, and financial advisers to grow UK legacy giving. Remember A Charity Week takes place in September each year, and in 2024 will be running from 9-15 September.

IMAGES: © Canva

About the author: Remember A Charity

Remember a Charity is a registered charity that brings together 200 charities who rely on gifts in Wills. 

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