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Only 25% of Britons plan to leave a gift to charity in their will

Only 25% of Britons plan to leave a gift to charity in their will

Only a quarter of Britons plan to leave a charitable bequest in their will, according to a survey for Key Retirement Solutions. Six in ten people do not believe it is important to leave a gift to charity when they die.

The poll of 2,064 people was carried out by YouGov.

Of course, the actual number of people who leave a gift in their wills is even smaller: Remember a Charity say that only 7% of people in the UK do so. The problem for charities is that, in addition to this minority interest in giving to charity via a will, there are still many people who never arrange a will at all.

Younger prospects

Surprisingly, given the focus of many legacy fundraising campaigns on older people, the survey findings suggest that people might become less likely to leave money to charity as they get older. One third of full-time students said that they planned to, compared to 22% of people who had already retired. Given the long lead time, however, it is not surprising that fundraisers still focus their efforts on older people.

Popular causes for bequests

The most popular causes that people said they would support with their will were:

  • cancer charities: 45%
  • animal welfare: 29%
  • terminal and degenerative diseases: 26%
  • child welfare: 23%
  • mental health: 20%

 Who will give?

London was the region where the charitable bequest message had been received most effectively: just over a third of people in the capital who were surveyed said that they planned to leave a charitable bequest.

People with children are more likely to support child welfare charities over animal welfare.

Retired people are the most likely to choose to give to cancer charities via their will.

Women are almost twice as likely to support animal welfare charities than are men.

Why did people choose to give?

The reasons people gave for wanting to leave money to charity were:

  • a personal association with the charity – 58%
  • wanting to help others – 56%
  • tax reasons e.g. reducing inheritance tax – 5%

How did people choose a charity?

The factors cited in choosing a particular charity were:

  • personal link with the charity – 63%
  • an organisation’s mission statement, aims and values – 46%
  • reputation – 44%

Commenting on the survey results, Dean Mirfin, Group Director from Key Retirement Solutions, said:

“This data, combined with previous research, suggests that more could be done to encourage people to remember a charity when they’re drawing up their last requests. Given the tax benefits of bequeathing money to charity, there are a lot of good reasons to consider this route when planning a will.”


Photo: last will by alexskopje on


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of Research massive growth in giving.

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