Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

Cancer Research UK, RNLI & Macmillan among biggest recipients of legacy income

Cancer Research UK, RNLI & Macmillan among biggest recipients of legacy income

Cancer Research UK, RNLI, and Macmillan Cancer Support received the most legacy income in 2018/19 according to Smee & Ford data.

Smee & Ford’s data reveals the top 25 UK charities for legacy income. While these three charities came top, other charities receiving sizeable donations included BHF, RSPCA, and Salvation Army.

On average, legacy income accounts for a third of a charity’s voluntary income, with £3 billion donated overall to charities last year through gifts in Wills. 2018 also saw the highest total ever of charities named in Wills, at 10,428.

Legacy income has increased by 50% over the last 10 years. 


The top 25 charities for legacy income in 2018/19 (compared to 2017/18)

  • The Capricorn Fund (received one £435m donation) – £435.3m (N/A)
  • Cancer Research UK – £181.5m (£186.6m)
  • RNLI – £135.1m (£130.5m)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support – £84.5m (£76.7m)
  • British Heart Foundation – £83.4m (£73.3m)
  • RSPCA – £77m (£78.6m)
  • Salvation Army Trust – £63.6m (£50.4m)
  • The National Trust – £51.9m (£61.6m)
  • PDSA £45.7m (£45.1m)
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Association £43.7m (£47.9m)
  • Royal National Institute of Blind People – £41.9m (£41.7m)
  • Dogs Trust – £34.9m (£30.3m)
  • Basil Latsen 1999 Charitable Trust – £34.7m (N/A)
  • Marie Curie Cancer Care – £34.4m (£33.2m)
  • Charities Aid Foundation – £33.5m (£23.8m)
  • Cats Protection – £31.5m (£30m)
  • The British Red Cross Society – £31.3m (£30.9m)
  • Honor Frost Charitable Trust – £30.4 m(N/A)
  • RSPB – £30.4m (£34.6m)
  • Age UK – £29.4m (£27.5m)
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital – £26.2m (£14.1m)
  • The Donkey Sanctuary – £23.3m (£24.8m)
  • The Royal British Legion – £21.6m (£20.3m)
  • NSPCC – £21.5m (£25m)
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability – £21.3m (£7.2m)


Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, said:

“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen an incredible number of people choosing to leave a portion of their estate to their favourite charity in their Will, which is wonderful to see.

“That said, we are a very charitable nation so it’s surprising that just six in 100 people leave a gift in their will, and it would be amazing if we could see this number continue to rise.

“Any gift – no matter how big or small – makes an enormous difference in helping charities to continue their incredible work, and what a wonderful way to ensure your legacy can live on after you’ve gone.”

The tenth Remember A Charity Week takes place this week with a nostalgic look at the 70s to tackle some of myths associated with leaving a legacy gift. This year’s campaign from the 200-strong coalition of legacy charities sees a strategic change in focus from raising awareness about to building understanding and inspiring supporters into taking action; writing a gift into their Will. 

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

Get free email updates

Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]

* We do not share your email or personal details.
" />