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Giving Tomorrow Legacy Report - Giving Tomorrow Legacy Report

Value of charity legacies to double in the next 25 years

Legacy Foresight says the number of gifts in wills is expected to rise from 120,000 a year to 200,000 a year over the next quarter of a century.

The value of legacy and in-memory charity donations is set to double in the next 25 years, according to a Legacy Foresight report. The report, Giving Tomorrow: Legacy and In-Memory 2045, which marks 25 years of the legacy consortium, says UK legacy gifts are currently worth £3bn and in-memory gifts £2bn a year, but adds that the combined total will be worth £10bn in real terms by 2045.

It also predicts that the number of gifts in wills will grow from 120,000 each year to 200,000 over the same period, due to a higher number of deaths, more people making wills and a higher proportion of those leaving donations to charity. And, the report says, baby boomers, or people born between 1946 and 1964, many of whom are relatively affluent, currently account for a fifth of deaths, but in 25 years will account for two-thirds of deaths.

The report predicts that smaller charities will experience increases in legacy donations and people will increasingly split their bequests between many causes.

"We are likely to see small charities making big gains, with people increasingly looking to support local and specialist charities and campaigns," the report says. "Baby boomers want to give money and time to causes they feel can make a tangible difference – often on a local/one-to-one basis – and this includes their legacies, as well as their giving or volunteering when they are alive."

But the report warns that the value of the individual donations will rise at a much slower rate than they have before. It predicts this will rise by 2% a year over the next 25 years, compared with 3.5% a year over the past quarter of a century, citing Brexit and global economic uncertainty as factors.

This uncertainty will also mean that people with children are more likely to feel they will need larger inheritances, the report says. But it also points out that the number of people choosing not to have children is growing and these people are far more likely to leave large gifts to charity.

And the report predicts that communicating with potential legacy donors will get easier, both because people will be happier to talk about and plan for their own deaths and because virtual reality and other digital innovations will allow charities to help donors envisage the impact of their donations more clearly. 

Meg Abdy, development director at Legacy Foresight, said the future envisioned in the report suggested there would be increasing competition for donors’ money.

"It will be a challenging new world, but one that charities and fundraisers should start to harness now," she said."There’s no doubt that 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."

Rob Cope, director of the Remember A Charity legacy consortium, 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."

Read: Third Sector - Value of charity legacies to double in the next 25 years, report predicts.