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Legacy Voice publishes first literature review into legacy giving

Legacy Voice publishes first literature review into legacy giving

Legacy Voice has published a comprehensive literature review into legacy giving with the aim of helping charities and fundraisers make the most of this source of voluntary income.

The review, Everything We Know about Legacy Giving in 2018, is authored by Professor Adrian Sargeant and Dr Claire Routley and available on the Legacy Voice site. It encompasses fields including fundraising, psychology, psychiatry and behavioural economics and pulls together over 160 previously published papers into one review of why and how donors leave gifts to charity in their wills.

It examines the area of will making, major motivations for leaving a gift to charity in a Will, the influence of charity communications and the importance of ongoing stewardship. It also includes a legacy model summarising the decision making process that a donor goes through when deciding what and who to benefit in their Will. 

Ashley Rowthorn, Director of Legacy Voice, said:

“What we find is that legacy giving has little if nothing to do with our own organisations, but instead is a reflection on the lives of our donors. And the more we understand what drives legacy giving, the more we see that it is completely different to lifetime giving. Which makes sense of the fact that the majority of legacy donors do not support or donate to those charities in their lifetime.”

“If we are to realise the potential of this form of fundraising, we must understand it better and apply that to our fundraising practices. All too often we see charities applying lifetime giving practices and expecting it to work in a legacy context. It just won’t”.

“What this research shows us is that legacy giving is driven primarily by a donor’s personal experience and values, and that leaving a gift in a will helps us find meaning in life, and a means to live on after our death. We see that legacy giving meets a real need for people, to find new meaning and purpose in later life. Legacy giving makes people happy”.

Professor Adrian Sargeant added:

“Over the last decade, our knowledge about who gives gifts in wills and why has increased dramatically – and bringing this disparate information into a single, accessible resource will be extremely helpful for legacy fundraisers.”


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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