‘Normalising’ gifts led to a 40 per cent increase in legacy giving

18 Oct 2016 News

A new study commissioned by Remember A Charity has found a 40 per cent increase in legacy giving from first-time will writers when solicitors ‘normalise’ gifts in wills. 

The findings of the study, unveiled by Remember A Charity at an event in London today, were based on trials involving eight firms of solicitors and over 2,600 client interactions across the United Kingdom. 

The study found that “normalising charitable legacies by communicating that this is something that others do,” was the approach that saw the biggest increase in terms of people leaving a legacy gift in their will. 

The “social norming” approach was found to be most effective for clients writing a will for the first time – however the study, conducted in concert by the Behavioural Insights Team and the University of Bristol, show the technique could be counterproductive for clients not writing their first will. 

The study also found that solicitor’s “addressing legacy gifts as an opportunity to support charities that participant’s families care about or have benefitted from” increased the likelihood of participants without children leaving a legacy. 

So called “posthumous benefit framing” – where solicitors focused on the good work a charity can do with a person’s money after they’ve died – was “not found to be as effective” as other framing methods. 

Both solicitors and clients comfortable with references to charity as part of will writing

The study also featured an online survey, in which over two thirds of client respondents said “they would be happy to have a solicitor mention charitable giving during the will-writing process”. A further 46 per cent of respondents said they believed solicitors “have a duty” to make their clients aware of the option of legacy giving. 

The study found a link between a client’s likelihood of including a charity in their will and the “language legal professionals use” around the issue. The study concluded that “how solicitors raise the charitable option can play a major role in legacy giving”. 

The study comes on the back of last month’s Remember A Charity Week, which saw Rob Wilson, minister for civil society, write to 8,000 solicitors across England, Wales and Scotland, encouraging them to highlight the opportunity of leaving a gift to charity in their client’s wills

Over 1,000 solicitors firms have now committed to the proposal.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: “While there has been a steady increase in the number of people choosing to include a charity in their will in recent years, we are far from a place where legacy giving is the norm and solicitors have a key role to play in making their clients aware of all the options when writing a will”. 

Michael Sanders, head of research, evaluation and social action at the Behavioural Insights Teams, said: “We already know that mentioning legacy giving as part of the will writing process can have a significant impact on giving levels, but the evidence from these new trials indicates that specific language used in conversations can make a real difference to the way that people respond in a face to face setting.”


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