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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Brits leave £2.5bn to charity in their wills

This news post is almost 7 years old

The National Trust for Scotland was the most popular Scottish charity for people to leave money to in their will last year

People left a record £2.5 billion to UK charities in their wills last year, according to new research.

Legacy giving has is an increasingly popular way to donate to charity, having increased by 39% over the last five years and up £7 million on 2015.

The charity that benefitted from the most legacies was Cancer Research UK, which received £177.8m from wills.

The nation's favourite legacy charities

Cancer Research UK £177.8m

Royal National Lifeboat Institution £118.5m

British Heart Foundation £67m

Salvation Army Trust £51.97m

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association £44.3m

Royal National Institute of Blind People £37.4m

Basil Larsen 1999 Charitable Trust £34.76m

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds £34.06m

British Red Cross Society £32.6m

Cats Protection £30.53m

Oxfam GB £17.3m

John Black Charitable Foundation £16.94m

WWF UK £16.03m

Christian Aid £12.82m

Royal Star & Garter Homes £10.56m

R C Snelling Charitable Trust £7.78m

National Trust for Scotland £7.77m

WaterAid £7.69m

Community of the Resurrection £5.31m

CAFOD £5.27m

League Against Cruel Sports £5.24m

Willen Hospice £4.89m

JNF Charitable Trust £4.33m

Univ College London Hospitals Charity £3.9m

The Royal Society £3.16m

Royal National Lifeboat Institution received £118.5m, the British Heart Foundation was given £67m, and the Salvation Army Trust benefitted from £57m.

The British Red Cross also saw its legacy income increase from £22.2m in 2015 to £32.6m in 2016.

The National Trust for Scotland received £7.77m, making it the most successful Scottish charity in terms of legacy giving.

The report from Smee & Ford found that although charitable estates in 2016 were slightly down on 2015, the general trend is that bequests are steadily rising.

Key indicators like the housing market support this trend by positively influencing increases in the values of residual bequests.

The report found the value of estates that include a donation to charity reached a all-time high of £16bn. Within these an average 15.6% of the value of the estate went to charity.

A total of 121,231 bequests were made in 2016 with 6% of the population leaving money to charity in their will. Women are more likely than men to leave money in their will, with 60% of donations coming from women.

In Scotland, 21,598 people left money to charity, donating an average 9% of the value of their estate.

The report advises charities that want to increase their legacy giving to get senior staff and board to buy into the idea.

It states: “Don’t be afraid to go out and have conversations with your supporters about gifts in wills. You may be surprised by how open people are to talking about legacies. Some of your supporters may have never considered leaving a gift in their will before – or even writing a will.

“Talking about it will provide food for thought to discuss with family and partners. Conversations about legacies don’t have to be a sombre affair – legacies make sure the things you value continue long into the future.

“Furthermore, by talking more openly about gifts in wills, you will also help supporters to see that leaving a legacy is not just the preserve of the very wealthy; it is something we can all do.”

Programmes such as Remember A Charity, a coalition of 160 well-known charities, has helped boost the number of people leaving money to charity in their will.

The Will Aid partnership between the legal profession and charities sees solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic will in November each year if their clients donate to charity.

However, the report states that just 1% more people leaving money in their will to charity would bring in an additional £95m to the sector.