Report urges charities to make the most of an expected £40bn legacy boom

The Strengthening Charities’ Resilience with Legacies report, which was co-authored by four major charity legacy organisations, predicts an escalation in the value of gifts from wills over the next decade, and that charities' legacy income will double in real terms over the next 30 years. 

The report – produced by Remember A Charity, Legacy Foresight, the Institute of Legacy Management and the legacy information company Smee & Ford – features insights from 12 legacy experts and findings from a survey of more than 120 charity sector representatives.

It explores how gifts in wills, which have raised an estimated £3.1bn this year, have provided greater resilience and stability during the pandemic, and advises charities how they can strengthen their legacy fundraising programmes during times of uncertainty.

An expected uplift in demand for will-writing, coupled with the scale of inheritance anticipated from the baby boomer generation, has created an exceptional opportunity for longer-term legacy growth, according to the report.

It predicts UK legacy income will be worth more than £40bn in the next 10 years. 

But it also conveys a sense of urgency, telling charities to both act soon to benefit from the expected growth, and to communicate the importance of legacies both within and beyond their supporter base.

While people typically make decisions about legacy gifts many years before they die, the report says decisions relating to more than £4.5bn-worth of income over the next decade will be made in the next five years. 

It warns that charities that hold off on legacy marketing for just one year could miss out on the opportunity to influence decisions on more than £1bn of this income.

The research highlights that more than 10,000 charities are named in wills each year, and calls on fundraisers to work together to grow the market.

It reveals that the volume of donations will be critical in driving market growth as legacy income is expected to double in real terms by 2050.

Previous figures released by Legacy Foresight predicted the number of annual legacy donations to charity will grow by almost a quarter over the next 10 years in the UK.

Allan Freeman, chair of Remember A Charity, said the pandemic had brought the sector to a pivotal moment when it comes to growing legacy giving.

“At the cusp of the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer of all time, we’re seeing a marked increase in the public’s appetite for will-writing. 

“This is a unique opportunity not only to normalise legacy giving, but to develop a more resilient financial core,” he said.

Meg Abdy, development director at Legacy Foresight, said: “For many donors, leaving a gift in their will is the ultimate expression of a lifetime of support. 

“To demonstrate that you need – and indeed deserve – that gift, your charity must continue to prove your relevance, show your appreciation and build personal connections.”

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