Public generosity sees almost £3 billion a year donated through gifts in Wills

5 November 2018

The latest figures on charitable gifts in wills have been released by Legacy Foresight today showing that the public’s legacy donations raised £2.96 billion for good causes in 2017 and are predicted to reach £3.4 billion by 2022.

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, says: “Legacy Foresight’s report underlines just how important charitable bequests are to the sector now and in the future, funding vital services across the country.”


Legacy giving in 2017

According to the Legacy Market Outlook 2018, gifts in wills now represent around 3.5% of all the money left in estates, up from 3% a few years ago. Although this is just a few percentage points, this is arguably one of the most important findings, demonstrating the British public’s increased generosity towards good causes. Legacies currently contribute 15% of all fundraised income and 6% of the total income received by British charities.

Health charities benefit from the largest proportion of gifts in wills (38% of total legacy income), followed by animal charities (15%), conservation and disability, (each receiving 8%).

Cope adds: “Gifts in wills are the largest source of all voluntary income, and it’s by no means just the largest or long established charities that are on the receiving end. Growth is seen across the sector and this is testament both to the public’s appetite for leaving a lasting gift, as well as to the hard work and collaboration of the nation’s fundraisers.

“While Brexit and wider economic uncertainty may indeed have an impact on future legacy trends, the outlook remains positive with more and more charities benefitting from gifts in wills.”


Outlook for the legacy market

Legacy Foresight highlights that rising deaths and economic uncertainty around Brexit will have an impact on both the number and value of legacies received by UK charities.

Meg Abdy, Development Director of Legacy Foresight says: “The number of deaths per year has been falling for the past three decades, making it all the more impressive that the number of legacies received has been climbing during this time. However, this downward trend has now reversed.” 

Legacy Foresight has upgraded its forecast of legacy bequests from 118,000 in 2017 to 124,000 in 2022. And, assuming that a Brexit deal can be reached by the March 2019 deadline, the UK legacy market is expected to reach £3.4bn by 2022. However, if the UK ends up with a ‘hard’ Brexit, or no deal at all, legacy income is likely to be considerably less.

Abdy continues: “The difference between a good and a bad Brexit for the UK legacy market is not insignificant. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and issue new forecasts if required.”


For more information or to request a copy of the Legacy Market Outlook 2018 visit