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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Huge majority of people have not considered legacy giving in will


Research shows where charities should focus efforts to maximise income.

Almost three quarters (74%) of people have not thought about leaving a gift to charity in their will, new research from law firm Shakespeare Martineau has revealed.

While charity legacy income rose by 8% to £3.9billion in the year to the end of June 2023, according to Smee&Ford, in a survey of more than 1,000 people, just 7% say they have formalised leaving a gift to charity in their will.

However, a further 1 in 6 (16%) people have thought about doing so but have made no formal provisions – highlighting the potential for revenue generation in this relatively untapped market.

Gaynor Lanceley, head of legacy administration at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “While the majority of people have not thought about leaving a gift to charity in their will, the proportion of individuals considering such provisions suggests there is a clear appetite in doing so.

“However, there remains a significant gap between intention and action – underscoring the importance of raising awareness about legacy giving and its benefits.”

The sentiment of considering leaving a gift to charity in their will but making no formal provisions remains consistent across various age groups, with those aged 35-44, 45-54 and 55+ exhibiting similar levels of contemplation (14%, 17% and 14%, respectively).

Respondents with higher incomes were more inclined to have made charitable donations in their wills, with 16% of those earning more than £75,000 having done so compared with 4% of individuals earning £15,000 or less.

Childless adults (26%) are more likely to have thought about leaving a gift to charity in their will compared to parents (22%). Additionally, respondents from non-white ethnic backgrounds are more predisposed towards considering charitable bequests (32% compared to 22% of white respondents).

Gaynor added: “Legacy is an income stream that often gets overlooked in favour of other areas in a bid to bring in essential funds more quickly. However, investment in legacies really can produce a much higher return on investment and good stewardship of donors can also promote lifetime giving.

“Our research shows there is a clear opportunity for charities to increase their focus on legacy giving to attract donors, which will, in turn, enable them to continue providing the crucial services and support so many people rely on.”



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