Gifts in wills to double

Making a will web

Legacy and in-memory donations to UK charities will be worth twice as much in real terms in 25 years’ time

28th October 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Gifts in wills to charities will double over the next 25 years.

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 new report launched at today’s (28 October) Institute of Fundraising Legacy Fundraising conference by leading experts Legacy Foresight.

The number of gifts left to charities in wills each year will grow dramatically from 120,000 today to 200,000 in 2045 - 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, the value of individual legacy gifts will rise relatively slowly, because of Brexit and the uncertain global economic and social climate.

The report, Giving Tomorrow: Legacy and In-Memory 2045, which marks the Legacy Foresight’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.

The report reveals:

•             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.

•             The long-term outlook for legacy and in-memory fundraising is extremely positive, thanks to wealthy baby boomers. Today they account for one in five deaths, but by 2045 it will be two thirds.

•             People without children will be more important than ever. By 2045, this growing group 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.

•             People will be far more happy to talk about death and plan their own passing – including telling family and friends exactly how they want to be remembered.

•             Small charities will continue to make big gains, with people increasingly supporting local and specialist charities and campaigns.

•             Competition will intensify. Rather than leaving one or two charitable donations, people will choose to split their giving between more causes.

•             Online, and on the money. People will use films, recordings, texts and holograms to communicate their final wishes. And digital wills will be the norm.

•             The ways charities interact with their supporters will change, 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.”

Welcoming the launch of Legacy Foresight’s report, Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, said: “In the next 25 years we will see a significant increase in potential income. Charities have got to invest in legacies now – or risk being left behind.”

Karen Rothwell, fundraising director at Greenpeace UK, said: “There will be big changes in terms of how we communicate, but what doesn’t change is human nature, and that should be a key theme looking ahead. Think about what people need. Real human interaction is always going to be important.”

Meg Abdy and Kate Jenkinson, head of in-memory consultancy at Legacy Foresight, will be presenting findings from Legacy Foresight's report at the Institute of Fundraising's Legacy Fundraising conference at America Square Conference Centre in London.

The report will also be discussed by a panel of experts who will share their own predictions for the future and consider how fundraisers should respond.