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Scottish charities see rapid growth in legacy income

Scottish charities see rapid growth in legacy income

Scottish charities raise almost £72 million annually through legacy gifts, with income from this source rising 23% in ten years according to figures from Remember A Charity.

Scotland’s Legacy Fundraising Market 2019 was published by Remember A Charity at an event in Edinburgh on 18 June.

The figures reveal that while charities in have a relatively small share (3%) of the total UK legacy market, they are increasingly reliant on . The top 78 legacy-earning charities headquartered in raise almost one quarter (24%) of their voluntary income through legacies, at an average of £918,000 per annum.

Income growth is also accelerating. The figures show that Scottish charities have seen a real-term legacy income rise of 23% from 2007-2017, compared with 13% for those with a UK-wide remit and 4% for charities in England. This is similar to that seen in the smaller Welsh market, which increased by 35% over the same period.

Charities with an annual income of £10 million and above dominate the Scottish market, benefitting from 70% of legacy income, while health charities have the largest share by income (35%), followed by Services and environmental organisations. Religious charities have lost ground however, from 11% of the Scottish market in 2007 to 5% in 2017.

The research was conducted by Dr Catherine Walker, Director of The Researchery, and Cathy Pharoah, Visiting Professor of Charity Funding, Cass Business School. Dr Walker said:

“This research on the long-term trends in legacy income to Scottish fundraising charities demonstrates the importance and resilience of this form of planned giving to good causes across the nation. We’re hoping that this report will help fundraisers not only gain new insights into the market, but communicate the potential for legacies to their managers and boards.”

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity said:

I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential for legacies in Scotland. There is a real opportunity and need for the sector to work together and build awareness of legacy giving among potential supporters and that is a key part of our own work programme for the coming months, not least during Remember A Charity Week this September.

“But there is also more that we can do at a practical level to support charities in Scotland and we are developing a new suite of resources to help build the confidence and skills needed to implement a successful legacy fundraising programme. This will include introducing legacy marketing toolkits for members and a webinar series before the end of the year.”

The report also highlights challenges in the marketplace, with fundraisers voicing concerns that there needs to be a higher profile of legacy giving in Scotland and that there is a lack of specialist legacy fundraisers, particularly among smaller and rurally-based organisations. The current political climate and the issue of Scottish independence were also identified as potential barriers to legacy giving with the majority of UK legators coming from the South of England.

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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