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10-year legacy research reveals need to normalise giving to sustain income growth

Ten-year research into the legacy fundraising market released today (4 April) shows Welsh and Scottish charities are seeing the fastest legacy income growth, with new and smaller charities increasingly benefiting from legacies, and overseas aid, environmental and services charities gaining ground in the market.
The UK Legacy Fundraising Market 2019 report by Remember A Charity, unveiled at the launch of the consortium’s new three-year strategy, shows increasing numbers of charities benefiting from legacies and reveals a number of insights into income growth, based on the analysis of legacy income to over 1,100 UK fundraising charities, with annual legacy income of £2.23 billion.
In terms of legacy income growth, it shows that Welsh and Scottish charities are outperforming charities in England and those with a UK-wide remit, despite the Welsh and Scottish legacy markets constituting a collective total of just 4% of the UK’s legacy income. Charities saw real terms legacy income growth from 2007-2017 of 35% in Wales and 23% in Scotland, against a UK average growth rate of 10%.
The research also reveals a 24% rise in the number of top 5,000 fundraising charities reporting legacy income over the decade, and changing public preferences in terms of the types of organisations people are naming in their Wills. While the biggest UK-wide charities and health causes still have the largest legacy income share, at 81% for UK-wide charities and 42% for health causes, the market is changing as new and smaller charities benefit. Favoured causes are also changing, with religious charities and social care losing ground and greater inclusion of overseas aid, environmental and services charities.
Dr Catherine Walker, Director of The Researchery, who conducted the research with Cathy Pharoah, Visiting Professor of Charity Funding, Cass Business School, said:

“This new research on long-term trends in UK fundraising charities’ legacy income demonstrates the resilience of this form of planned giving as a way to support the causes the public cares about. Legacies made a strong recovery from the impact of recession as market values picked up again, with donors responding to new opportunities and appeals to make charitable bequests.”

However, with more charities competing for funds, the report also highlights the need for greater collaboration within the sector to help normalise legacy giving and to continue donor market growth over the long-term.
Commenting on the findings, Remember A Charity Director Rob Cope said:


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“Today’s legacy market is proving more accessible than ever, with many new and smaller charities fundraising for legacies and changing the overarching shape of the market. Our challenge now is to increase the pace of growth of the donor marketplace and ensure that there is greater scope for every fundraising charity to benefit from gifts in Wills.
“The donor market is clearly growing but with rapid expansion in the legacy fundraising marketplace and more charities at the table, the question is whether charities will start to feel the squeeze. With the future impact of Brexit as yet unknown and economic instability predicted for some time yet, this reinforces the need for the sector to work collaboratively to grow the donor market, providing a more stable basis for this vital income stream for the years ahead.”

Key statistics

UK Legacy Giving Info