Charity Gifts in Wills: how and why...

Posted on 20 September 2019

Why gifts in wills are so super, and how to get further help and peer support.

Legacies are the most cost effective way of raising money for charities.  For every £1 spent on fundraising for legacies, the payoff is better than any other channel, even fundraising for grants from trusts and foundations.  It is also less volatile than other streams of fundraising.  During economic downturns people are less likely to change their will than cancel a direct debit or tighten institutional purse-strings.

Woman holding flower by Lina Trochez

Photo credit: Lina Trochez

How to get support and learn more:

There is a fundraiser’s peer support group for Legacy and In-memory fundraisers connected to the Institute of Fundraising.  It’s organised through Yahoo Groups (a blast from the past) but the content, insight, and support from other fundraisers from all sizes of charity is unparalleled.  Go here: and ask to join.

There are Facebook groups for fundraisers in general and there are often discussions about gifts in wills fundraising – such as this one: .

Remember a Charity have a subscription service for their resources and pooled campaigns. The cost of this is based on the size of the charity.  Access affords not only participation in Remember a Charity week, but also access to the intranet containing all sorts of research and resources about gifts in wills.

Here at Make a Will Online we work with dozens of charities with our free wills campaigns. We are expert will writers rather than fundraising consultants – we deliver solicitor-checked wills to your supporters.  You are welcome to get in touch with us to discuss your needs.  Just contact us and ask for Oliver.

Finally, there are consultants and researchers who can and will help your efforts around messaging your supporters and getting gifts in wills.

More info about gifts in wills:

The amount of gifts in wills has been growing above the rate of inflation for a long time.  It was worth £2.6 billion a decade ago, and £3.6 billion per year now.  The increase is based on (a) increased awareness and generosity: so more people giving gifts in wills, and (b) a steady increase in the value of assets such as homes.  The forecast is that this trend will increase as more and more baby-boomers put gifts in their wills, campaigns like Remember a Charity week take hold in the national consciousness, and property values increase or plateau.

Interestingly, more smaller charities are being remembered in gifts in wills.  The educated donor is more likely to leave a gift to a charity that has personal meaning for them, or a spread of charities, with some large/ national and others more local or focussed.  So, if you are a smaller charity, you are best poised to make the most of the growth.

Fundraising for gifts in wills need not be complex affair.  Just drip-feed the message in communications so it’s always in a supporter’s mind: so they know it’s a possibility when they finally get round to making a will.  Another fundraising favourite for gifts in wills is a simple bookmark.  Having a story of the work that gifts in wills has helped you achieve, or a personal story from someone who is a “legacy hero” who can share their reasons  is a great start too

Due to its nature, gifts in wills tend to provide income to a charity a number of years down the line.  If you are able to ascertain who your supporters who have left a gift in their will are, you have the chance to build close relationships with people who hold your cause in extremely high regard.

It is never possible to guess when you’ll get a gift that is pledged. You can try to work it out actuarially, but it’s a fool’s errand unless you have very high numbers of gifts in wills each year.  For smaller charities with a handful a year, it’s better to put together a wishlist of things that you would like to have, then apply funds when the money comes in.




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