FPS will have a 'minimal effect' on charitable legacies, says Legacy Foresight director

Meg Abdy tells an Institute of Fundraising conference that the preference service will reduce legacy income by 0.4 per cent over the next 10 years

Meg Abdy

The Fundraising Preference Service will have a minimal impact on legacy fundraising, reducing the amount raised in this way by less than 1 per cent over the next decade, according to Meg Abdy, director of the charity legacy consortium Legacy Foresight.

Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising’s legacy fundraising conference in London yesterday, Abdy said the consortium had estimated that the cumulative impact of the FPS on legacy income would be 0.4 per cent less over the next 10 years – equivalent to £150m – than if the service did not exist.

From 2027 to 2036 there would be £1.21bn less legacy income – an anticipated fall of 2.2 per cent – than without the FPS, she predicted. Over the next 20 years, Abdy said, cumulative legacy income would be £1.36bn lower.

"This might sound a lot, but it's just 1.6 per cent down," she told Third Sector after the conference, adding that the total value of legacy giving between now and 2036 would exceed £80bn.

The FPS is due to come into effect by February 2017. The FPS working group was frequently told during its consultation that it should not stop charities from calling or mailing people with legacy requests "because they do not ask for additional funds until a later date", according to document about the findings. But it is not yet clear if the Fundraising Regulator plans to take this point into account when it puts its plans for the FPS into action.

Abdy said: "We believe that the impact of the FPS over the next 10 years will be pretty minimal due to the long lead times between people deciding to write charities into their wills and finally dying."

She said that because half of all charitable legators were unknown to the charities they donated to, such people would not be affected by changes to direct marketing rules. "They are not on the charities’ databases," she said.

Abdy said Legacy Foresight’s estimates were based on the assumption that the public would sign up to the FPS gradually over a number of years, until about a quarter of all people were signed up, which she said was in line with Telephone Preference Service subscription rates.

They were also based on the assumption that many of those signing up would be under 50 years old and would not die for at least 30 years on average.

She said people who signed up to the service would be less likely to leave legacies than those who did not, but she expected that a small proportion would still do so.

Legacy Foresight data indicates that 38,500 new charitable wills were written in 2015, with about 115,000 charitable bequests in them. That brought the total of charitable wills to 1.5 million, including 4.5 million charitable bequests. The amount currently pledged to charities is worth about £100bn over the next 50 years, according to the consortium’s calculations.

The Fundraising Regulator’s board will consider the feedback from its final consultation on the FPS on 16 November and will publically disclose its final decision on how the service will work before the end of the year.

- This article was corrected on 9 November. It originally attributed a quote about the FPS working group to Meg Abdy. 

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