Making the legacy ask is vital

A recent trial aimed at increasing legacy giving to charities had some interesting results, says Rob Cope, director at Remember A Charity

Rob Cope
Rob Cope

Three times as many people in the UK would leave gifts in their wills to charities they are passionate about if their solicitors were to remind them to consider the option. This is very welcome news for good causes and Remember A Charity, and it is why we wanted to hold a trial to increase legacy giving to charities.

The legacy giving trial was conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team at the Cabinet Office – also known as the ‘nudge unit’ – as part of a consortium with Remember A Charity and The Co-operative Legal Services. No single charity could have done this on its own.

The trial looked at more than 1,000 new wills over six months. Gifts in wills already bring in a considerable £2bn a year for UK charities, 13 per cent of all charitable donations.

The trial showed that when solicitors or will-writers simply mentioned to people that leaving a gift to charity was an option, the proportion of people who did so rose from 5 per cent to 10 per cent. This amount trebled to 15 per cent if people were asked if there were any charities that they were passionate about. An additional £1m of gifts was left to charities in wills as a result of the trial alone.

This suggests that by making the all-important ‘ask’ for support in the right way, charities can dramatically increase the number of people giving to them and the amounts they give. We know that a significant number of people are keen to leave gifts to charities in their wills, but don’t do it unless they are specifically asked to do so.

An extra £4bn

Remember A Charity is hugely encouraged by the trial. If the results of the research are fully  implemented, it could mean as much as an extra £4bn for charities every year – and that’s just if solicitors simply ask people to consider leaving gifts in the right way.

That’s why we’ve called on all solicitors and will-writers to remind their clients that leaving gifts in their wills is a way of continuing to support their favourite causes after they’re gone.

Where to go for more information: Consumer research conducted by Remember A Charity shows that nearly half of the population have thought about leaving money to charity in their wills, but only about 7 per cent currently do. For more information, visit

Rob Cope is a director at Remember A Charity

This article appears on a page edited by the Institute of Fundraising and hosted by

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