The good news is the value of legacies is increasing year on year across the UK.  According to a recent report by Smee and Ford, Legacy Notification Provider GB, in 2015 the recorded value of gifts in Wills across the UK was £2.240bn’. This is a significant growth in legacy income for charities over the past three years.

This income is proving vital to the Voluntary Sector here in Northern Ireland, particularly in the current economic climate with public sector cuts, a squeeze on government funding and the uncertainty of EU funding.

Indeed many of our 53 charity members report an increase in gifts in Wills of all sizes. In some cases up to two thirds of their annual income deriving from legacies. This compounds the case that legacy fundraising is key to sustaining the great work of charities in NI.

However member charities are aware that 40% of adults in Northern Ireland don’t have a Will and only 3% of those who make a Will leave a gift to charity. We recognise that it is completely natural for people to want to look after their loved ones but after they are taken care of, could even a small gift to charity be considered?

So where do professional advisors, solicitors and Will-makers fit into this? 

Research undertaken by membership charity, Remember a Charity shows that when solicitors told clients that leaving a gift to charity was an option, the percentage that did so increased from 5 to 10%. When clients were asked if there were any charities they were passionate about, gifts included in Wills rose again to 15%. So, in real terms, this means that a ‘nudge’ from solicitors could in fact mean a significant boost in income for charities.

A second piece of research undertaken by social purpose company The Behavioural Insights Team and the University of Bristol, commissioned by Remember a Charity found:

  • Discussing charitable legacies in the context of Will-making and in face-to-face meetings is seen as highly appropriate. In an online survey, 46 % of respondents said that solicitors have a duty to ask clients about legacy giving, while most respondents were supportive of solicitors asking about charitable giving in Wills 
  • People writing their Wills for the first time, who heard that others had given, went on to donate roughly 40 per cent more than those who did not receive this information.

Following this research the Law Society Gazette reported Solicitors are ‘crucial’ to charitable bequests.

Our appeal to you

  • Ask all clients making Wills to consider leaving a gift to charity in their Will – after their loved ones and family have been taken care of.
  • Emphasise to clients other people leave charitable Will gifts here in Northern Ireland. Any one of us is in a position to leave a charitable gift in Will.
  • Use the opportunity you have in face to face contact with clients to affect positive change for local charities and services.

It has been calculated if we can convert just one percent of non-charitable estates to charitable, we would raise another £78 million each year for charities in the UK.

Thank you.


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