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Legacy & in-memory donations to double in 25 years, says report

Legacy & in-memory donations to double in 25 years, says report

Legacy and in-memory donations to UK charities will be worth twice as much in real terms in 25 years’ time, reaching £10 billion by 2045, according to a report launched at today’s Institute of Fundraising Legacy Fundraising conference by Legacy Foresight.

The number of gifts left to charities in Wills each year will grow from 120,000 today to 200,000 in 2045, it says, due to more deaths, more Will-making and a higher proportion of people leaving bequests. The growth will be driven by the large, mainly affluent baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) who will be in their eighties and nineties by 2045. However, Brexit and the uncertain global economic and social climate will mean the value of individual legacy gifts will rise relatively slowly.

Legacy Foresight‘s report, Giving Tomorrow: Legacy and In-Memory 2045, marks the organisation’s 25th anniversary, looks ahead to 2045 with predictions for how legacy and in-memory giving will change, as well as the implications for charity fundraisers.

According to the report, legacy and in-memory giving are worth £5 billion a year to British charities (£3 billion and £2 billion respectively) – a tenth of total income, based on NCVO figures.

It also points to a positive long-term outlook for legacy and in-memory fundraising, thanks to wealthy baby boomers who today account for one in five deaths, rising to two-thirds by 2045.

In addition, by 2045, people without children will represent a significant share of legacy giving as the number of people dying childless rises, while those with children focus more on immediate family, with less space for charity in their Wills.

The report also predicts that small charities will continue to make big gains, with people increasingly supporting local and specialist charities and campaigns, and that competition will intensify as, rather than leaving one or two charitable donations, people will choose to split their giving between more causes.

As well as being happier to talk about death and plan their own passing, people will also use films, recordings, texts and holograms to communicate their final wishes, while digital wills will be the norm, the report predicts.

The ways in which charities interact with their supporters will also change, it says, with virtual reality and other digital innovations bringing donors into direct contact with beneficiaries, allowing them to envisage the impact of their gift while they are alive.

Meg Abdy, Development Director at Legacy Foresight, said:

“There’s no doubt UK society will see some fundamental shifts over the next two decades, including many more people living into their 90s, a new generation of child-free donors, and the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth ever seen.

“People will choose to split their giving between more causes and technology will help to level the playing field, enabling the smallest charities and community groups to reach and inspire supporters. This all means that competition is going to increase for donors’ money. It will be a challenging new world, but one that charities and fundraisers should start to harness now.”

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, commented, saying:

“In the next 25 years we will see a significant increase in potential income. Charities have got to invest in now – or risk being left behind.”

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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