Record breaking year for charity legacy income

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Charity legacy income is estimated to have reached £4bn and bequest numbers almost 140,000 in the year 2022/23 — an annual income growth of 6.5%. This news comes at a time when a growing number of charities are increasingly reliant on gifts in Wills. 

The growth estimate is based on this year’s Legacy Monitor from Legacy Foresight - the sector’s annual benchmarking research programme, which gathers data from over 80 charities, accounting for almost 50% of the charity legacy market.

UK legacy income, £bn

These results reflect the resilience of the legacy market, with easy and up-to-date access to the latest facts and figures from the UK legacy market now available via Legacy Future's new Data Dashboard.

Although the upward growth trajectory looks set to continue for the long-term, Legacy Foresight also warns that current economic conditions are likely to negatively impact growth in the coming months - with falling house prices not only impacting average gift values but also affecting the time taken between notification and money being received by charities. 

Despite the projected fall in house prices meaning that the medium-term forecast for legacy income is relatively subdued, beyond 2026, the forecast for the legacy market is a lot more positive, with an expected return to accelerated growth. In real terms, legacy income is predicted to reach over £6bn by 2050.

Long-term predicted growth of UK legacy income, £bn

While growth in legacy income is positive news, charities need to be aware that the market is becoming more crowded. With more charities vying to be heard in the legacy market, it is getting harder to maintain and grow share. Smaller charities with smaller budgets are finding it easier to spread their legacy programmes to potential legators as digital marketing for legacies becomes more mainstream.

Charities must therefore be prepared to plan, invest and be creative to secure their space in this evolving sector.

CEO of Legacy Futures, Ashley Rowthorn, says:

“With the huge impact that external forces such as house prices and the probate backlog are having on the legacy market, it’s more important than ever and yet more challenging than ever, for charities to understand how they are faring compared to the market.

“Charities need to stay aware and informed as to what is happening to the external drivers, so they’re able to separate market trends from their own. This will enable a better understanding of their underlying performance and to set realistic budgets and strategies for the future."

Lucinda Frostick, Director at Remember A Charity, says:

Particularly in such tough economic times, charitable legacies have never been more valued. Fundraisers, finance teams, CEOs and trustees at any charities with established legacy fundraising programmes will no doubt be thankful that their predecessors had the foresight to invest in legacies in years gone by, helping them weather the current storm.

“We can’t control the economic environment, but what we can influence is the propensity for giving and the way in which we inspire people to leave a gift in their Will. Currently, we’re seeing appetite for legacy giving reach record levels. In challenging times, it’s all more important that we continue to collaborate within the sector and beyond, building on legacy growth to normalising charitable gifts in Wills.