We are coming to the end of another year of the Legacy Monitor Programme, and what a year it has been.

First, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our Legacy Monitor consortium members, who have done a wonderful job in keeping the data and dialogue flowing throughout these difficult days.

A massive thanks also, to our four panellists who shared their insights on a range of topics at our end of year presentation (held virtually for the first time ever!), and to all those who contributed to the debate.

Here, I share my own five top take-outs from this year’s Market Review and discussions.


Gifts in wills are vital, though still often overshadowed

According to the latest NCVO Almanac, legacies account for 16% of all fundraised income, and 7% of total income across the sector. For larger charities, the impact is even more significant. Across the 100 largest legacy charities – including many Monitor members – gifts in wills represent two-fifths of fundraised income and a fifth of total income.


Despite this significance, legacy fundraising and legacy administration often seem undervalued within the organisations we work with. Perhaps due to the long lags between action and realisation, or the ‘invisibility’ of many legacy donors, investment in legacy teams is low compared to many other forms of fundraising. In our latest Legacy Marketing Benchmarks, legacies represented just 4% of all fundraising spend, vastly outpaced by more immediate fundraising products such as regular giving, cash giving, events and gambling.


Planning in times of acute uncertainty

This was an incredibly interesting topic with lots of valuable tips from our panel, including…

  • Move to lower risk cash forecasts rather than accruals. Cash is King!
  • Adopt a cautious approach to asset valuation and possibly pause property sales until things become clearer next year
  • More than ever, make sure legacy fundraising and admin teams have a strong relationship. Present a straightforward narrative to senior management and trustees, and stick to your guns
  • Continue to ensure you have positive relationships with lay executives and family members. Manage their expectations if internal resourcing is causing delays in communication
  • Empathy burnout is a real issue. Working so close to death can be emotionally challenging, especially during this intense period, so make sure that staff members get the support they need too
  • Plan for the worst, hope for the best!


The sector is becoming younger and broader

Once again, it is the medium-sized legacy charities (with legacy incomes of £2m – £8m) who are seeing the fastest growth, up by 8% p.a. over the past five years.


At the same time, we are continuing to see strong growth amongst smaller, often local causes, with air ambulances, hospitals, and wildlife trusts all gaining ground. We expect this trend to continue in years to come as legacy donors experience local charities first-hand, as beneficiaries, donors, and volunteers.


Long term bequest numbers will climb

The latest biennial ONS death projections were published in October 2019, 6 months before

the coronavirus pandemic took hold. According to those latest projections, there will be 6.5 million UK deaths over the next ten years, up 5% on ONS’s 2017 projections.


Fuelled by the rapidly rising death rate, and the growing interest in leaving a gift, we predict that over the next ten years the number of charitable bequests will increase by 23%, from 118,000 to 145,000.


The 10-year outlook remains good

In 2019 the total UK legacy market was worth £3.4bn. According to our market model, income will grow by 37% in current prices over the next ten years, to reach £4.7bn in 2029. This is lower than the 59% growth seen between 2009 and 2019 – a period of rapid economic recovery following the

2008 global financial crisis – but still represents real terms growth of 16%. That’s a thought to hold onto in the troubled days ahead.


If you would like to find out more about joining the Legacy Monitor Programme for 2021, please contact Richard Hill, r.hill@legacyforesight.co.uk or download the brochure.

To access our Legacy Market Briefing 2020 in full, please click here.

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