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7 September 2020 at 5:49 pm
Maggie Coggan
Charitable gifts in wills could be 1.7 times higher in 20 years, new research finds  


Maggie Coggan | 7 September 2020 at 5:49 pm


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In it for the long haul
7 September 2020 at 5:49 pm

Charitable gifts in wills could be 1.7 times higher in 20 years, new research finds  

Despite income from gifts in wills stalling over the next two years, charities are being urged to play the long game, as new research finds the number of bequests could double in the next 20 years.  

The research, published by Include a Charity (IAC) and Legacy Foresight as part of Include a Charity Week, found that because gifts in wills were driven by economic factors such as house prices, share prices and GDP growth rates, the value of charitable bequests was likely to be lower than anticipated in the short term due to coronavirus. 

But in the longer term, the outlook was slightly more positive.  

Increasing numbers of affluent and generous baby boomers passing away, as well as a growing proportion of deaths attributable to child-free women, a demographic that is more likely to bequeath gifts to charities, means that the number of charitable gifts in wills in 20 years will be approximately 1.7 times higher. 

The report also found real income from gifts in wills would grow at a trend rate of 3.7 per cent per annum, reaching 2.2 times higher in 2040, compared to 2019.

Helen Merrick, the director of IAC, told Pro Bono News that with coronavirus putting a stop to community and face-to-face fundraising activities, charities needed to invest in longer-term fundraising solutions.    

“Organisations really need to be thinking now about doing that work so that when the next global financial crisis or pandemic happens, you’re ready and you’ve got that kind of surety of income that’s coming through because you’ve done the work previously,” Merrick said. 

Currently, just 11 per cent of living donors over the age of 55 with a will have included a charitable gift, despite more than 80 per cent of Australians donating to a charity in their lifetime. 


See also: Bequest boom won’t happen by itself

Meg Abdy, Legacy Foresight’s development director, said the analysis showed that the number of Australians leaving behind a charitable gift in their will had not grown significantly in the past nine years. 

“More concerted efforts are needed to boost these numbers in future,” said Abdy.  

“That’s why Include A Charity is such an important social movement, raising awareness and inspiring giving across the country.”

The Include A Charity campaign is supported by over 80 charities including the Australian Red Cross, Australia for UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency, Cancer Council NSW, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and Guide Dogs. 

Merrick said that each of these charities and many more had been adversely affected by coronavirus, and needed to think about how to attract secure income streams well into the future.  

“It’s so important that our charity members talk to their donors, supporters, and their staff about the importance of leaving the gift in their will, because it really will remain a vital source of income for Australian charities,” she said. 

Find out more about Include a Charity Week here. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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