It's Include a Charity Week
9 September 2021 at 7:00 am
There is a challenge – and an opportunity – for growing the gifts in wills pie in the future, writes Katherine Raskob, CEO of Fundraising Institute Australia.
It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the first Australian Include a Charity Week.
Include a Charity is the social change campaign of Fundraising Institute Australia, comprising over 100 Australian charities working on behalf of incredible and important causes including medical research, vulnerable children and teens, humanitarian work, education, the arts, animal welfare, homelessness and the environment. Since its inception, Include a Charity members have been working together collaboratively in an effort to raise awareness, provide a vehicle to make a difference, encourage people to act and ultimately, increase gifts in wills income so that charities can do more transformative work for their beneficiaries.
Despite the incredible effort in helping Australians to understand the importance of these kinds of transformational gifts, as well as encouraging them to act, we will still have some way to go. Two pieces of research on this subject (Baker, 2012 and Giving Australia 2016) found that, of those who have a will, only 7.4 per cent of people included a charity. FIA commissioned research from More Strategic in late 2019 that showed the percentage of over 55s leaving a gift in their will was 11 per cent which is somewhat more encouraging; however, there still exists a challenge – and an opportunity – for growing the gifts in wills pie in the future.
It is also an area that is often under-resourced or misunderstood by not-for-profit leaders due to the length of time it takes to realise a gift – and the difficulty in showing a direct return on investment. According to the More Strategic research, gifts in wills fundraising investment represents less than 3 per cent of total fundraising budgets, though we have always known the potential is so much greater than the current investment.
Last September 2020, Include a Charity released its Australian Legacy Foresights report looking into the long-term forecast for this under-valued source of fundraising income. Despite expecting some small declines over the next couple of years (mainly due to external factors outside of our control), over the next 20 years we expect strong growth.
Key outcomes of the research include:
- The number of charitable gifts in wills is expected to be approximately 1.7 times higher in 2040 compared to 2019, thanks to the impacts of a long-term upward trend in the number of deaths and an increasing proportion of deaths attributable to child-free women – a demographic that is more likely to bequeath gifts to charities.
- The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to result in falling average values of gifts in wills in 2021.
- However, anticipated long-term growth in house prices and share prices means that we would expect the average real value of gifts in wills (after adjusting for inflation) to recover and be around 1.3 times higher in 2040 compared to 2019.
- Real income from gifts in wills is anticipated to grow at a trend rate of 3.7 per cent p.a. over the forecast period – reaching around 2.2 times higher in 2040, compared to 2019.
Though gifts in wills is a vital source of income for Australian charities there remains an issue regarding the perception of charitable giving. Though data in this area is limited, the Legacy Foresights report suggests that the underlying tendency for Australians to leave a gift in their will when they die has not grown in recent years. To help arrest this slow-moving behavioural pattern, it is important that charities invest in marketing now to inspire a higher proportion of Australians to leave a gift, then this growth could be significantly higher.
And that’s why campaigns such as Include a Charity are so important in raising awareness of both the ongoing need as well as the opportunity for Australians to make their mark and leave a legacy for the future.
Include a Charity is a social campaign of Fundraising Institute Australia that aims to increase the awareness of charitable gifts in wills across all areas of the community. Include a Charity Week focuses on the opportunity to make a lasting impact through a gift and runs from 6-12 September 2021. See www.includeacharity.com.au for more information.