Allan Freeman: The time for sharing the legacy message is now

11 Sep 2023 Voices

For Remember A Charity Week 2023, chair Allan Freeman discusses the importance of legacy income for the sector and encouraging donors to give through their wills…

Remember A Charity Week has always been about reminding everybody that they can leave a legacy– inspiring and empowering them to take action and remember their favourite charity in their will. This year, sharing that message feels more important than ever.

The peak of our consumer activity, it’s a week where we come together to celebrate legacies and get that important conversation started, both internally within charities and externally to supporters.

Not just another year

But 2023 is not just another year: charities are dealing with the impact of everything from the continuing fallout from the pandemic, to the cost-of-living crisis and rising concerns about climate change.

Legacy income – generating some 44% of annual voluntary income in the UK, most of which is unrestricted – is proving crucial support for charities large and small. This makes it all the more important that we keep working collectively to raise awareness of the impact of gifts in wills, enabling charities to rely on legacy income for generations to come.

Significantly too, it looks like the cross-generational transfer of wealth from the Baby Boomer generation (and what that might mean for legacy giving) is starting to filter through. While for a long time, the value of legacies from the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) has been on the rise, it dropped slightly for the first time in 2022, with more growth coming through from the Boomers. While we do not yet know what market data will show for 2023, it could be that we are seeing the start of a shift from one generation into another.

Against this backdrop, appealing to the boomer generation and inspiring them with the opportunity of leaving a gift in their Will is vital. And that’s why this year’s Remember A Charity Week conveys the message that everybody can leave a legacy.

Closing the gap

Taking the theme “Be remembered for”, this year’s campaign explores the unforgettable memories we have of treasured moments spent with loved ones, and the quirky things they leave behind that help shape their legacy. From their rose bushes to their secret recipes, the campaign shows that everybody could leave a lasting legacy, and, big or small, they’re equally important and meaningful.

Tapping into humour to help spark conversations about what we leave behind says about us, Remember A Charity is helping to inspire people to reflect on how they will be remembered, and whether they would also like to include a gift to their chosen charity.

Legacy giving has already risen by 43% over the past decade (reaching £3.85bn in the UK last year according to Legacy Foresight) but there is still what we call the intention gap. Overall in the UK, our research shows that 40% of people say they would be happy to leave a legacy while Smee & Ford figures show that only 16% of wills at probate actually include one, and it’s this gap that we’re working to close.

So, the more of us that take part in Remember A Charity Week, the more people we can reach with this important message, and the greater the legacy income we can bring in for all charities to share.

Much more than Remember A Charity Week

Our 200 charity members will be taking part in the week, along with our 850 campaign supporters (solicitors and will-writers) and a growing network of legal and strategic partners. The week is a brilliant opportunity to use the campaign tools and resources, not only to share the legacy message with supporters and build on the increased profile for legacy giving during September, but to make that all-important case for legacy investment internally.

While Remember A Charity Week is always the peak of our consumer activity, the need to promote legacy giving continues all year round, which means that we’ll be running bursts of our consumer campaigns on digital channels across the calendar year. We’ll also continue to grow our network of professional advisers, engaging with wealth managers and financial advisers, alongside solicitors and other legal partners.

And, crucially, we’ll continue to engage with government to protect and nurture the UK legacy environment. This includes maintaining the current fiscal benefits and tax advantages of leaving gifts in wills. We’ll continue to work with Scottish government over the pricing structure around accessing wills, which inhibits a central notification system, and of course with HMCTS on probate delays, among a raft of policy issues.

Collaboration helps us all

We’ve made great leaps in recent years towards normalising legacy giving. But while this intention gap remains, there is an awful lot more we can do. And for that we need you.

There is real power in numbers, so please, join us this week by using the hashtag #RememberACharityWeek across your social media to help us share that message and make leaving a charitable legacy a possibility for even more people.

Civil Society Voices is the place for informed opinion, and debate about the big issues affecting charities today. We’re always keen to hear from anyone, working or volunteering at a charity, who has something to say. Find out more about contributing and how to get in touch.



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