Legacies on the rise: tracking study out now

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Our annual consumer tracking study has found that public appetite for legacy giving is on the rise, with more than one in five charity donors (21%) aged 40+ saying they have included a charitable gift in a Will, up from one in seven (14%) in 2010. Over the same period, rejection of legacy giving has dropped from 13% to 9%.

Figures from 2023, released today, 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%) having included a charity. This compares with around one quarter (27%) 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%) say they would be willing to leave a small percentage of their estate to charity, with more than one in ten (13%) saying they would be open to leaving 10% or more of their estate.

Our consumer benchmarking study*, carried out by independent research firm OKO, surveys more than 2,000 charity donors aged 40+ to track legacy giving attitudes and behaviour year-on-year. Over the last 14 years, the study, which follows Prochaska’s Stages of Change model, has tracked long-term forward movement in legacy giving from awareness through to preparation and action.

Lucinda Frostick, director of Remember A Charity, welcomes the findings, saying: “This 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.”

Will-writing trends

The study shows an incremental rise in Will-writing, with almost two thirds (64%) of supporters having written a Will, up from 63% in 2022 and 62% in 2021. Of those with a Will in place, almost one third (31%) have included a legacy donation, up from 29% in 2022. Around three in ten (29%) 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%) saying they have used or would use a solicitor to write their Will and 17% a Professional Will-writer. Free Will schemes are more likely to appeal to younger and less affluent audiences.

Legacy giving is one of the largest sources of voluntary income for UK charities, raising £4 billion annually**.

Additional findings include:

  • 64% of legacy pledgers haven’t let charities know they have included a gift;
  • Of those, almost half (47%) say it never occurred to them to tell the charity;
  • And for 25% 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%).

Remember A Charity works with charities, a network of legal advisers, partners and Government to grow legacy giving all year round. We also hosts the annual Remember A Charity Week, taking place 9-15 September 2024. 

*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.

**Legacy Foresight, 2023