Legacies to overseas aid and environmental charities on the rise

But gifts in wills to religious charities have fallen substantially, according to analysis of the past five years by Smee & Ford

The number of people leaving legacies to overseas aid and environmental charities has increased over the past five years while legacies to religious charities have fallen substantially, new data from the legacy information provider Smee & Ford shows.

Smee & Ford’s five-year analysis of more than 180,000 charitable estates across the UK found that overseas aid and environmental charities benefited from 109 and 86 more legacies respectively in 2017 than they had received in 2013.

Medical welfare, rescue services and sport and recreation charities also performed well, Smee & Ford’s data shows.

But religious charities received 1,340 fewer legacies in 2017 than in 2013, the figures show, with charities covering issues including older people, children and young people, hospitals, the disabled and local communities also experiencing a fall in the number of legacy gifts.

Smee & Ford said the data, which it said was the first study of its kind in the UK, showed how giving patterns were shifting over time as the proportion of legacies received from the over-92s fell and the legacies left by the generations aged between 73 and 92 and the "baby boomer" generation – aged between 54 and 72 – began to emerge.

Mark Pincher, data analyst at Smee & Ford, said: "Taking a macro look at legacy giving trends over the five years, the number of legacies has remained consistent, with between 35,000 and 38,000 charitable estates registered each year.

"Looking at the five-year trends, the most notable shift has been in the type of organisation that people are choosing to support. This is very early evidence of a change in donor behaviour over time."

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