10% annual increase in number of charities named in Wills

20 April 2016

The number of charities benefiting from legacy donations is rising, according to new Smee & Ford data released at Remember A Charity’s Forum event on Tuesday 19th April.

Remember A Charity and Smee & Ford have come together to announce the latest figures for the number of charities included in charitable Wills in 2015. The number of charities named in a Will in England, Scotland and Wales increased by 10% from 2014 to 2015, escalating from 9,019 to 9,910 organisations.


Fig. 1: Total charities included in Wills

Of the 9,910 organisations that were named in a Will in 2015, 4,410 (45%) of them had not previously been named as legacy beneficiaries in the years since Smee & Ford first started recording every charity beneficiary in Wills (in August 2012). From August 2012 to the end of 2015, a total of 19,261 charities have been named in Wills.

Almost half of charities (47%) that were included in a Will for the first time in 2015 represent religious (18%), culture & heritage (12%), community (10%) or educational causes (7%). There has also been a notable increase in the number of health organisations introduced in charitable Wills (with 195 health charities entering the legacy register in 2015), while fewer animal charities are being added to the list.

Remember A Charity is one of the largest collaborative charity campaigns in the UK, working to make legacy giving a social norm. Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “These findings mirror our own experiences at Remember A Charity, where we are getting more and more enquiries from a range of charities, including arts and health organisations, that have recently entered the legacy field.

“Greater competition may mean that some charities will see their market share squeezed, which is why our collective work to encourage and grow legacy giving is so important. Our drive for behavioural change in the wider public is ever more important in making legacy giving a social norm.”

Mark Pincher, Data Analyst at Smee & Ford added: “Considering the whole charitable population totalling over 180,000 organisations in the UK, it is true that there is a small group which attract the majority of bequests. However our research shows that annually there are up to ten thousand charities mentioned in wills which is much broader than we initially perceived.

“Of the 19,000 organisations we have identified since 2012, nearly half (49%) have only been mentioned once, meaning that around 9,500 organisations have been mentioned twice or more. It is certainly positive to see the number of charities supported increasing by 10% in 2015 and we look forward to examining the results for 2016.”


Fig. 2: Charities receiving legacy gifts by cause

Over the long term, the number of charitable estates is on the rise, growing from 28,982 in 2007 to 36,226 in 2015, against the backdrop of a falling death rate, declining from 560,038 to 555,478 within the same timeframe. One in six people (15.6%) whose Wills go to probate include a charitable bequest.

Last year, Smee & Ford revealed that legacy income had grown by 8% from the year 2013 to 2014, escalating to £2.208 billion in 2014, despite a 1% decrease in the number of people that died in the same period. (Legacy income figures for 2015 will be published by Smee & Ford in late 2016).

Smee & Ford is currently hosting a webinar, “The Future of Legacy Income”, created with legacy expert Richard Radcliffe, exploring why legacy giving is forecasted to increase dramatically over the coming years. To join this webinar and to see other webinars in the series visit http://smeeandford.com/signup.