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Legacy income tops £2.24bn annually in the UK yet only 7% leave a charity bequest

Legacy income tops £2.24bn annually in the UK yet only 7% leave a charity bequest

account for a quarter of the total amount given to charities each year, and now top an annual £2.24bn.

However, while 35% of people say they would leave a legacy to charity in their will, only seven percent actually do so, according to nfpSynergy’s Facts and Figures: Legacies for Charities report, which, it suggests, leaves an opportunity for charities to increase their income if they can solve this challenge.

Figures from nfpSynergy show that 37% of people have made a will, and of those, 24% had mentioned a charity in it. In total, the percentage of those saying they would leave a gift to charity in their will has increased by three percent over the last two years from 25% in 2015 to 28%. In comparison, the amount of people saying they would not consider leaving a gift peaked in 2011 at 45% then fell to 27% in 2012.

Of those who have made a will, younger age groups were more likely to have left a gift to charity in their will, such as 50% of 16-24 year olds compared to 21% of 65+ year olds. This is also mirrored among those who have not yet made a will. Of this group, 50% of 16-24 year olds said they would consider leaving a gift, compared to 17% of those aged 65+. 61% of this age group said they would not.

nfpsynergy legacies

Cancer is the most popular cause to give money to, with 48% saying that their favourite charities fell under the cause. This is supported by figures from Charity Financials, which are cited in the report, and which show that this is also reflected in legacy giving, with Cancer Research UK the most popular charity to leave a legacy to in 2016, receiving £56,200,000 more than RNLI, which was ranked second.

According to Charity Financials, Cancer Research UK received £169.1m through legacy giving in 2016, accounting for 38% of its fundraised income. In comparison, RNLI received £112.9m: 66% of its fundraised income. The RSPCA was the third most popular charity for legacy bequests last year, receiving £63.7m: 59% of its total fundraised income.

The full report can be accessed via the nfpSynergy site.

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Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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