Legacy research reinforces importance of normalising legacy giving

4 April 2019

New research into the legacy fundraising market

At the launch of our three-year strategy, we unveiled our UK Legacy Fundraising Market 2019 report, which focuses on trends in the legacy fundraising market over the last 10 years.

Showing growth in the number of charities benefiting from legacies and revealing new insights into income growth, the research underlines the importance of achieving the consortium’s goal of growing the donor market, normalising legacy giving.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, says: “The donor market is clearly growing, with a long-term shift in the proportion of estates that include a charitable gift. But with rapid expansion in the legacy fundraising marketplace and more charities at the table, the question is whether charities will start to feel the squeeze.

“Our research shows that legacy income is being stretched across a broader marketplace and that some markets are more likely to feel the pinch than others. With the future impact of Brexit as yet unknown and economic instability predicted for some time yet, this reinforces the need for the sector to work collaboratively to grow the donor market, providing a more stable basis for this vital income stream for the years ahead.”

Welsh and Scottish charities outperform legacy income growth in other parts of the UK

The report unveils new trends and market insights based on the analysis of legacy income to over 1,100 UK fundraising charities, with annual legacy income of £2.23 billion. Exploring the impact of the recession and subsequent economic recovery, the research identifies long-term legacy income patterns, drawing national comparisons for charities in England, Scotland and Wales.

When it comes to growth in legacy income, Welsh and Scottish charities are outperforming charities in England and those with a UK-wide remit. Although the Welsh and Scottish legacy markets constitute a small proportion of the UK’s legacy income (amounting to a collective total of 4%), the report reveals that charities saw real terms legacy income growth from 2007-2017 of 35% in Wales and 23% in Scotland, against a UK average growth rate of 10%.

24% increase in top fundraising charities with legacy income

The research conveys that the market is broadening, with a 24% rise in the number of top 5,000 fundraising charities reporting legacy income over the decade and changing public preferences in terms of the types of organisations people are naming in their Wills.

Health charities retain the largest income share from legacies (42% in 2017), but overseas aid, environmental and services charities are increasing their space in the market. At the same time, religious charities and social care are losing ground.

Long-term trends point to new challenge 

The research was conducted by Dr Catherine Walker, director of The Researchery, and Cathy Pharoah, visiting professor of Charity Funding, Cass Business School. Dr Walker says: “This new research on long-term trends in UK fundraising charities’ legacy income demonstrates the resilience of this form of planned giving as a way to support the causes the public cares about. Legacies made a strong recovery from the impact of recession as market values picked up again, with donors responding to new opportunities and appeals to make charitable bequests.

Professor Pharoah adds:“Across all parts of the UK, legacies continue to be the largest single source of fundraising income, from 31% of giving to UK-wide national charities to a quarter of giving amongst Scottish and Welsh charities.”

Rob Cope comments: “While the biggest UK-wide charities have long dominated the sector and continue to be hugely successful with legacies, they don’t have the monopoly. Today’s legacy market is proving more accessible than ever, with many new and smaller charities fundraising for legacies and changing the overarching shape of the market.

“Our challenge now is to increase the pace of growth of the donor marketplace and ensure that there is greater scope for every fundraising charity to benefit from gifts in Wills.”

Strategic priorities

Our strategic priorities for 2019-2021 set out how we aim to grow the donor market and normalise legacy giving. In addition to ongoing consumer awareness initiatives, government lobbying and ensuring legal advisors encourage clients to consider leaving a gift to charity when writing their Will, the strategy sets out a new focus for identifying trigger points for the public to consider legacy giving during retirement and pension planning.