5 numbers every Scottish charity needs to make the case for legacy fundraising

11 October 2021
Legacy FundraisingData, Research and Analysis
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Following the release of new research collated by Remember A Charity, Legacy Foresight, Smee & Ford and the Institute of Legacy Management in a joint report into the Scottish legacy market, Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, explains why legacies could play an even bigger role in your charity’s future and help to get your trustees on board.

Legacies have become increasingly important for Scottish charities over the years, but never has this been more evident than during the pandemic, when so many fundraising activities had to be cut back or closed down entirely. As demand for services increased and funding needs became ever more urgent, this has put into perspective the critical role of legacies in powering charity’s reserves over the years and sustaining income during the crisis.

But, in conversation with Scottish fundraisers, it’s clear that there’s still some reticence among board members about broaching the topic of legacy giving with valued supporters. Plus, when there’s so much need for funding now, it’s only natural for teams to question if they can afford to wait for longer-term legacy returns.

Having the right fundraising mix will always be a delicate balancing act, but these five numbers from our new joint report into the Scottish legacy market

£90 million

Gifts in Wills are creating substantial funding streams, with research from Legacy Foresight showing that Scottish charities now raise over £90 million from legacy donations annually. The market is dynamic and vibrant, with legacy income to Scottish charities growing at an average of 7% each year, exceeding the 4.6% growth rate for England & Wales.

While the scale of legacy donations can be considerable, it’s the fact that such funding is largely unrestricted that can be even more influential, particularly in the current environment when charities are having to change direction at the drop of a hat. Legacies are giving charities the flexibility to invest wherever they need it most, whether that means keeping the organisation running or upscaling services to meet demand, building agility and resilience for whatever lies ahead.

500 Scottish charities

Currently, around 50 Scottish charities generate the lion’s share (70%) of legacy income, but the market is broadening, with more and more charities opening up conversations about legacy giving with their supporters. The latest figures from Smee & Ford show that around 500 Scottish charities benefit from gifts in Wills each year – an 18% increase on the previous five years. The large majority of those are smaller and community-based charities (64%), reinforcing the message that every organisation can make a success of legacies, no matter their size or focus.   

50 Scots write a gift into their Will each week

While legacy values certainly make a strong case for investment, it’s the appeal of legacy giving for the public that is perhaps most exciting of all. People in Scotland have close connections with charitable causes in their community and beyond, and legacy giving is becoming increasingly prevalent. With more charities fundraising for gifts in Wills, the number of Scottish charitable estates has grown by 27% over the past two decades. Legacy giving is no longer a rarity. In fact, almost 50 people in Scotland now leave a gift to charity in their Will every week. But there’s much more scope for growth.

42% of Scots are happy to give

Although 1 in 10 Scottish Wills at confirmation include a charitable donation, consumer tracking from OnePoll shows that more than 4 in 10 Scots over the age of 40 say they would be happy to leave a charitable gift in their Will. Often, it’s simply that they haven’t been asked or haven’t yet thought about it. In other words, the Scottish fundraising sector may well be only scratching the surface of what could be achieved with more widespread, sensitive and collaborative promotion of legacy giving.

A £43 billion legacy boom

And now, here we are, at the cusp of the biggest intergenerational wealth transfer of all time and I’ve no doubt that the coming years will be pivotal for legacy giving in Scotland. Legacy Foresight predicts that the baby boomer generation will choose to pass on around £43 billion to UK charities in the next 10 years alone. Inevitably, it will be those charities that demonstrate the impact of legacy giving and encourage supporters and followers to consider them in their Will who will surely benefit most from that growth.

Legacy giving is fast gaining ground in Scotland – empowering supporters with the concept that they can leave the world a better place for future generations. And as charities strive to build back from the challenges of the global pandemic, this income stream will be all the more needed for the years ahead.

This blog summarises new research collated by Remember A Charity, Legacy Foresight, Smee & Ford and the Institute of Legacy Management in a collaborative report on the Scottish legacy market.

For more, see the full report: Building back stronger with charitable legacies.

Rob Cope
Rob Cope
Director of Remember A Charity and a Director at the Institute of Fundraising
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