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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Legacy giving on the up in Scotland

This news post is almost 5 years old

Charities are benefitting from almost £72 million a year through legacy gifts - with income in Scotland growing faster than other parts of the UK

More Scots are leaving money in their wills to charity than ever before.

Scottish charities are raising almost £72 million annually through legacy gifts and income is growing fast, according to a new report.

Scotland’s Legacy Fundraising Market 2019 was unveiled by Remember A Charity at an event in Edinburgh yesterday (Tuesday 18 June).

At the launch, the consortium revealed that Scottish charities have become increasingly reliant on legacies. The top 78 legacy-earning charities headquartered in Scotland raise almost one quarter (24%) of their voluntary income through legacies, at an average of £918,000 per annum.

Although charities in Scotland have a relatively small share (3%) of the total UK legacy market, the study shows that income growth is accelerating. 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. Robust growth in the Scottish market is similar to that seen in the smaller Welsh market, which increased by 35% over the same period.

Major charities – those with annual income of £10 million and above – dominate the Scottish market, benefitting from 70% of legacy income. When it comes to the top charitable causes for gifts in wills, health charities have the largest share by income (35%), followed by services and environmental organisations. As is the case across the UK, religious charities have lost ground, from 11% of the Scottish market in 2007 to 5% in 2017.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said: “What strikes me from our conversations with fundraisers in Scotland is that the legacy market is performing far better than many charities realise.

“It is a vibrant market and there is significant potential for further growth, but as with any other area of fundraising, legacies need investment; time, energy and resources. Charities that grasp this opportunity at a strategic level will likely be those that benefit for many years ahead. A successful legacy programme can be completely transformational.”

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.”