Legacy giving expected to double in 25 years, says report

28 Oct 2019 News

Donations from legacies to UK charities will be worth twice as much in real terms in 25 years’ time, reaching £10bn by 2045, according to a new report by Legacy Foresight.

The report, Giving Tomorrow: Legacy and In-Memory 2045, looks ahead to 2045 with predictions for how legacy and in-memory giving will change, as well as the implications for charity fundraisers. It was launched today at the Institute of Fundraising's Legacy Fundraising Conference.

The report also includes a section on the implications for fundraisers.

The number of gifts left to charities in wills each year is set to grow from 120,000 today to 200,000 in 2045. This is due to more deaths, more will-making and a higher proportion of people leaving bequests. 

However, Legacy Foresight had said the value of individual legacy gifts will rise relatively slowly, due to Brexit and the uncertain global economic and social climate.

The report states: “Brexit is creating a state of extreme uncertainty. However it plays out, that uncertainty is likely to have an impact on both legacy and in-memory giving.”

“The uncertainty is further encouraging people to stop spending and batten down the hatches, so financial decisions are being taken that protect family and loved ones first, not just for now but well into the future. Which all means the short-term projections for legacy giving are less than rosy – in fact, income had already fallen slightly for the first time in seven years in 2018,” it adds.


The report suggests that the long-term outlook for legacy and in-memory fundraising is positive because of wealthy baby boomers. Today they account for one in five deaths, but by 2045 it will be two thirds.

“Baby boomers are a uniquely privileged generation – the kind of wealth and prosperity they have experienced in their lifetimes may never happen again,” reads the report.

It also found that people without children will represent a significant share of legacy giving. As the number of people dying childless rises, those with children will focus more on immediate family, with less space for charity in their wills.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: “In the next 25 years we will see a significant increase in potential income. Charities have got to invest in legacies now – or risk being left behind.”

The report also suggested that people will be readier to talk about death and plan their own passing. It says that small charities will benefit as people will increasingly supporting local charities and campaigns.

‘Competition is going to increase for donors money’

Meg Abdy, development director at Legacy Foresight, said: “There’s no doubt UK society will see some fundamental shifts over the next two decades, including many more people living into their '90s, a new generation of child-free donors, and the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth ever seen.

“People will choose to split their giving between more causes, and technology will help to level the playing field, enabling the smallest charities and community groups to reach and inspire supporters. This all means that competition is going to increase for donors money. It will be a challenging new world, but one that charities and fundraisers should start to harness now.”

Commenting on the report’s implications for charity fundraisers, Karen Rothwell, fundraising director at Greenpeace UK, said: “There will be big changes in terms of how we communicate, but what doesn’t change is human nature, and that should be a key theme looking ahead.

“Think about what people need. Real human interaction is always going to be important.”

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