Gradual rise in donors leaving charitable gifts in wills, report says

17 Apr 2024 News

By Charlize D/Adobe

There has been an incremental rise in charitable donors writing wills and pledging gifts to charities, according to a new report.

Almost two thirds (64%) of charity donors have written a will, up from 63% in 2022 and 62% in 2021. 

Of those with a will in place, almost one third (31%) have included a legacy donation, up from 29% in 2022. 

Overall, researchers found 21% of donors aged 40 and over have included a charitable gift in their will, up from 20% the year before.

One in five donors pledge legacy gift

Remember A Charity’s annual consumer tracking study looks at figures from 2023, and found that rates are highest amongst those who are affluent, aware of the inheritance tax incentives, and who have sought professional advice for their finances.  
Over three quarters of supporters (77%) said they would be willing to leave a small percentage of their estate to charity, with 13% saying they would be open to leaving 10% or more of their estate.  

Those aged 40 to 60 with a will were more likely to have included a charitable gift in their will than those aged over 60 (37% vs 27%), the report says.

It also says that 29% of legacy pledgers added a charity when making updates to an existing will.

The research found 64% of legacy pledgers have not let charities know they have included a gift.

Of those, 47% said it never occurred to them to tell the charity while 25% said they could not see how it would help to let the charities know.

The report says the biggest reason people had not to leave a charitable gift in a will was that they wanted to leave everything to family or friends (63%). 

According to the report, the average age when first making a will is 51 years, although more affluent individuals are more likely to write their will at a younger age

Almost six in ten supporters said they had or would use a solicitor to write their will and 17% a professional will-writer.

Free will schemes are more likely to appeal to younger and less affluent audiences.  

‘Potential for continued growth’

Lucinda Frostick, director of Remember A Charity, said: “This study shows the long-term positive shift in legacy giving attitudes and behaviour, and that the propensity for giving in this way is gaining ground beyond the baby boomer generation, particularly for those in their 40s and 50s.

“This indicates that there’s great potential for continued growth of the legacy market, but it also stresses the importance of supporter stewardship.  
“Legacy income is crucial for an increasing number of charities.

“While we can’t impact the economic environment that drives legacy values, we can positively influence the proportion of people choosing to leave a gift; by working together, and engaging with legal partners, government and others to make legacy giving a social norm.” 

The Remember A Charity consumer benchmarking study analysed more than 2,000 charity donors aged 40 and over to track legacy giving attitudes and behaviour year-on-year. 

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