Legacy income for Scottish charities rose by £10m in three years, report says

22 Jun 2023 News

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Legacy income for Scottish charities increased by £10m in three years, according to a new report.

Currently, legacy income accounts for one-fifth of all money donated to Scottish charities, according to the joint report from Remember A Charity and Legacy Foresight.

Based on SCVO analysis of Scottish charity accounts, legacy income for charities in Scotland reached £136m in the 2020-21 financial year, up from £126m in 2017-18, and from £83m in 2012-13. 

Meanwhile, legacy income for charities in England and Wales reported to the Charity Commission increased to an estimated £3.7bn last year.

The new report states: “While Scotland’s legacy market is younger than that of England and Wales, it is seeing considerable long-term growth, with hundreds of charities of all shapes and sizes now being named in wills each year, funding vital services across Scotland when that support is most needed.”

It also references the lack of a notification system for charitable gifts in wills in Scotland, as is provided in England and Wales through Smee & Ford. 

“With costs from the Scottish courts prohibiting the running of the same service in Scotland, concerns have been raised that legacy income may not always reach its intended beneficiaries,” it reads.

“In fact, the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) estimates that as much as 10%-15% of legacy income could be lost without the checks and balances that a comprehensive notification system delivers.”

Window of opportunity 

The report states that while economic recession does impact legacy income, mainly due to the downward pressure it puts on housing prices, “it tends to result in a slowing or flattening of growth rather than a dramatic fall”. 

Comparing income by cause among the top 50 charities tracked by Legacy Foresight, health causes account for the biggest share by far, with 19 charities taking almost 40% of this group’s total legacy income. 

The next top causes are conservation and animals, followed by children, disability, and development.

“Looking to the future, we’re reaching a unique window of opportunity linked to the ageing baby boomer cohort,” the new report says.

“The second largest generation to date, this cohort tends to be strong charity supporters who genuinely want to see the world become a better place. 

“This is all good news for charities looking for a significant income source to enable them to plan into the future and safeguard vital services.”

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