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Just 1 in 5 Brits leave a gift to charity in their will - and child-related charities receive the least

05 September, 2017

Probate and Wills specialists First4Lawyers collated data from 15 of the top UK charities to analyse how much is gifted each year through Wills, how many people donate when they die, and which type of charity receives the most.

A First4Lawyers poll of 2,000 people revealed that just 1 in 5 (20%) include a charity in their Will and child-related charities receive the least. However, gifts from Wills across all charities total, on average, £2 billion each year.

The majority of annual income for charities comes from legacies each year and therefore without it, many would have to cut crucial services. First4Lawyers hope that the figures surrounding charity donations will encourage more people to remember a charity in their Will.

43% of gifts in Wills go to animal charities – more than any other sector

Gifts in Wills total an average of £2 billion each year, which is the equivalent of what could be raised over 19 Comic Relief events. In Britain, animal charities are gifted to the most often: 43% of Will donations are left to animal charities, whereas only 7% donate to child-related charities. However, latest annual reports show that cancer related charities receive the most in terms of monetary value, suggesting that they must receive larger donations.

Of those that gift to charity in their Will, 83% say they choose charities that are 'close to their hearts', or because they, or someone close to them, received support from that charity (23%).

Analysis of Top 15 charities reveals Cancer Research receives the most legacy donations

Although people make more donations to animal charities, the analysis of the latest annual reports from 15 of the top UK charities, reveals that Cancer Research receives the most money in terms of the total amount.

Cancer Research UK received £187 million last year from legacies, followed by RNLI at £118.5 million. The largest animal charity in the UK, the RSPCA, received a huge £71.4 million, which is three times more than children’s charity, the NSPCC, which received £23.4 million.

1 in 8 leave their children nothing

Of those surveyed, half say they are leaving the majority of their money and assets to their children - while 1 in 8 say they won’t leave their children anything. Over 90% of people will not be leaving anything for parents or friends, and 80% say siblings will not be included in their Wills.

The survey also found that the older you get, the less likely you are to leave a gift to charity. Only 1 in5 of those aged 45+ said they would; while half of 18-24 year olds with a Will say they will be leaving something to charity.

Some just simply haven’t got round to creating a Will yet – shockingly over two-thirds of those people are over 55.

The poll revealed that 40% “don’t see the need to right now”, unsurprisingly the majority of these (70%) were people between 18 and 24 years old.

Analysis of the UK found the top five regions who had not prepared a Will:

  • North East (64%)
  • London (63%)
  • West Midlands (57%)
  • Wales (53%)
  • Scotland (48%)

80% of Brits unaware that charity donations reduce inheritance tax

Leaving a part of your entire estate to charity can reduce, and in some situations, eliminate inheritance tax liability. By leaving 10% of your ‘nest estate’ to charity, you can cut inheritance tax from 40% to 36%.

The vast majority (80%) of those surveyed, whether they are not leaving or wouldn’t leave money to charity, are unaware that that this is the case, and First4Lawyers aim to raise awareness.

The age groups that were least aware of this were 18-24 year olds (93%), and 25-34 year olds (87%). However, once they were aware of the fact, they were also the most persuaded groups to leave a charity donation (40%), compared to over 55s (11%).


Andrew Cullwick, spokesperson at First4Lawyers said: “It's intriguing to see how many people are unaware that leaving a gift to charity can reduce inheritance tax, and that now armed with that knowledge, a quarter of people would be persuaded to change their mind.”

“This lack of knowledge is why it is important to speak to a specialist solicitor when creating a Will, and First4Lawyers are here to help.”

Summary of key stats

  • Data collated by Probate and Wills specialists First4Lawyers reveals just 1 in 5 (20%) Brits donate to charity when they die.
  • Despite this, gifts in Wills total an average £2 billion each year, the equivalent to the amount raised at over 19 Comic Relief events.
  • Brits are more likely to include animal charities within their Wills than any other charitable organisation – child-related charities were included the least.
  • The RSPCA receives 3 times more than the NSPCC through donations in people's Wills.
  • Cancer Research received £187 million through gifts in people's Wills last year.
  • 80% are unaware that gift legacies have inheritance tax benefits.