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The legacy fundraising sector – what we can learn from academic research

Posted on 4th November 2022

Our legacy giving literature review brings together insights from over 150 academic articles – from fields such as fundraising, marketing, psychology and behavioural economics – into a single review of everything research can tell us about legacy giving today, and examines how this insight can inform bequest fundraising practice.

The original 2018 report has been read by thousands of fundraisers around the world and has recently been updated by Dr Claire Routley, Professor Adrian Sargeant, Dr Lucy Lowthian and Harriet Day to include a range of new insights from the last four years, and we are delighted to share it with you.

Here are a few highlights:

Strong futures

In the UK, the legacy marketplace is expected to grow, predicted by Legacy Foresight (2021) to more than double to £5.16 billion by 2030 (in constant prices).

Impact of the pandemic

As expected, the pandemic had an impact on will making more generally, bringing issues of illness, death, family and financial changes into stark reality.

Charities play a role

Charities play an important role in the will making market, with 2020 Legacy Foresight research finding that 12% of all wills have been made using a free or subsidised charitable scheme, increasing to 35% amongst millennials.

Demographic differences

There certainly are demographic differences to legacy giving, and this can affect

Psychological motivation

Some interesting insights came out in terms of psychological motivation and how charities can potentially increase interest in legacy giving whilst, at the same time, enabling their supporters to feel better.

Thinking big picture

When it comes to legacy giving, it’s important to look at the bigger, more visionary picture (the abstract) rather than the specific details of a charity’s work (the concrete). This is the exact opposite of what is proven to work well in annual or immediate fundraising asks.

Importance of ongoing stewardship

You can read more about the thinking behind the Literature Review in this blog by Dr Lucy Lowthian here, and download a copy HERE.