Proportion of over-50s considering leaving legacies rises by 10 per cent in a year, report finds

The proportion of people aged over 50 considering whether to leave a legacy to charity has soared by 10 per cent in just 12 months, according to a report published today. 

The report, Legacy Fundraising: The Only Constant is Change, which is based on online surveys of 15,000 over-50s, reveals that 45 per cent said they would consider leaving legacies in 2019/20. This compares with 41 per cent in 2018/19.

The increase reflects the buoyant state of the legacy market compared with other forms of fundraising, according to David Cole, managing director of the marketing data company Fastmap, which co-produced the report.

But Cole added that it also showed how easy it was for charities to be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking that any legacy growth was a good return.

“If house prices went up by 10 per cent in a year it would be headline news,” he said. “So we should be shouting about this. It is extraordinary growth.”

Cole saud that any charity experiencing annual growth in legacy income of less than 10 per cent was effectively losing market share and ought to reconsider its approach.

The report says: “More than ever charities need to access and use the available data to understand who else supporters are thinking of leaving a legacy to. 

“Those who will be successful moving forwards will create legacy propositions that focus on their cause, their achievements and differentiating themselves from the competition. 

“Legacy fundraising is moving at pace – it’s just not as obvious.”

The report, which it is hoped will be produced annually, was compiled using data from fastmap's Legacy Potential Premier League Table, which ranks charities by their potential to generate bequests in wills from existing supporters.

The document also reveals that of those considering leaving legacies, the proportion of people open to residuary giving has gone up by 10 per cent, from 72 per cent in 2018/19 to 79 per cent in 2019/20.

Residuary giving is the main legacy revenue stream for most charities.

Another key finding is that the proportion of people open to writing wills online has increased from 32 per cent to 41 per cent.

The document highlights the contrasting fortunes of some major charities. 

While the percentage of supporters considering leaving wills has gone up at Cats Protection and Help for Heroes, it has gone down at Cancer Research UK, the Royal British Legion and the RNLI.

Rob Cope, director of the Remember A Charity legacy consortium, said: “This report highlights the two key challenges that charities now face: the need to continue to grow the legacy market, as well as each charity’s need to grow their own market share.

“The good news is that more people are leaving gifts in their wills than ever before, thanks to our sector-wide efforts to drive behaviour change. But competition for those gifts is greater than ever, with new charities entering the market and outpacing more established brands.

“Unfortunately, too many charities are still complacent about this opportunity, believing that the money will come in anyway. Those charities that fail to properly invest in legacies risk being left behind.”

Fastmap co-published the report with Freestyle Marketing, whose director, Allan Freeman, is also the chair of Remember A Charity.

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