Latest stats and facts on Legacy giving in the UK

This report draws upon headline findings from the Legacy Market Review, produced by Legacy Foresight for the Legacy Monitor Consortium. We are very grateful to Legacy Foresight and their clients for agreeing to share this information.

The legacy market at a glance

Deaths, wills and charitable bequests

  1. In 2013 there were 575,000 UK deaths[i], and 292,000 grants of probate issued[ii] – the difference represents small estates or where the surviving spouse inherited the entire estate
  2. 245,0000 grants of probate included a will [ii], the remainder (16%) were intestate
  3. 90% of wills were from England & Wales, 8% from Scotland and 2% from Northern Ireland
  4. Between 1988 and 2014, the number of charitable legacies rose from 66,000 to 113,000 – a growth rate of 1.9% pa[iii]. In all, 6-7% of UK deaths lead to a charitable will[iv].
  5. Pecuniary gifts are rising faster than residuals, now accounting for 54% of all charity legacies [iii]
  6. Among the key 65+ age group, 73% claim to have written a will, and 13% of those people have included a charitable gift[v]. In all, 9.3% of 65+s now have a charitable will

Measuring the legacy market

  1. In 2014 the legacy market was worth £2.42bn[iii]. That represents 3.4% of all the money left in estates[vi]
  2. Legacies account for 13% of all voluntary income and 5% of all income received by charities[vii] Just 12,000 (8%) voluntary organisations received any legacy income in 2013/14
  3. The top 10 legacy charities account for 28% of the market; the top 50 for 50%[iii]
  4. Health is the largest legacy sector, accounting for 38% of the total[viii]. Other important sectors are animal charities (14%), conservation (9%), disability (8%), international development (7%) and the advancement of religion (5%). Smaller sectors include children’s and armed services charities (with 3% each) and older people’s charities (2%)

Spotlight on faith-based legacies

  1. Legacy Foresight estimate that in total, faith-based legacies are worth around £270m p.a.
  2. In 2013/14, 154 charities whose primary purpose is the advancement of religion (such as the Bible Society or the Quakers) received £72m in legacy income [viii].  
  3. 57 service delivery charities with a religious ethos (such as Methodist Homes, The Children’s Society, CAFOD and - not least - the Salvation Army) received £125m in legacy income in 2013/14.
  4. Performance varied significantly according to geographic scope. The 8 charities with an international focus (£31m) enjoyed annual growth of 6.5% p.a. The biggest players in the international category are Christian Aid, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and JNF Charitable Trust. Meanwhile, the 49 charities with a domestic focus (£94m) saw their income fall by 1.3% p.a.
  5. Local churches and parishes received some £73m in legacy income.  Three national church bodies were able to provide data on their local legacy income:

    • In 2013 the Church of England and its parishes received legacy income totalling £49.5m.   
    • In 2013/14 the Catholic dioceses in England & Wales received £13.4m in legacy donations. 
    • In 2013 the Church of Scotland’s legacies totalled £9.9m, of which £6.7m came from local churches and £3.1m came from National Councils /Committees.

i Office for National Statistics
ii Judicial Statistics for England & Wales, Northern Ireland  Judicial Statistics, Scottish Sheriff’s Office
iii Legacy Foresight
iv Smee & Ford
v Charity Market Monitor, RNLI, September 2014
vi Inland Revenue
vii NCVO Almanac 2015
viii Based on top 1,000 legacy charities 2013/14, Charity Commission Register of Charities

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