Last year saw legacy giving in the UK at an all-time high, as measured by the umbrella organisation Remember A Charity. The organisation says it continued to make significant progress towards its goal of making charitable will writing the social norm.
“While it has been a challenging year for fundraising, by working together the consortium has had its most successful year to date,” it said.
The proportion of people who say they have included charitable legacies in their wills is now at 17% – the highest level since Remember A Charity began monitoring in 2002. The campaign also saw record support from Government this year, including the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Scottish Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The percentage of solicitors and will writers who ‘always or sometimes’ prompt their clients has also increased, from 53% to 66% in the past five years – again, the highest level since its market research commenced in 2002.
The results came despite a number of news stories emerging criticising the fundraising efforts of some charities and the publication of the Etherington Report on the regulation of fundraising activities.
The report, published in September, included the setting up of a Fundraising Regulator. The regulator and its board will be funded by a levy on charities that spend more than £100,000 on fundraising.
In the report, Sir Stuart Etherington recognised that charities who gain more of their income from legacies than from traditional fundraising should not be disproportionately penalised.
The report says: “A levy on fundraising expenditure introduces proportionality across the sector, ensuring that small organisations which may benefit from one off donations or wills do not get unduly burdened.”
Similarly, it rejected the notion of a levy on income for similar reasons, saying: “Smaller charities which engage in little or no fundraising and instead rely on legacies could be disproportionately hit.”
In general the report was welcomed, together with a report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) of the House of Commons, which warned the Etherington proposals represent the ‘last chance’ for self-regulation of charity fundraising. The committee said if the trustees in the sector fail to put their house in order, statutory regulation must follow.
The Institute of Fundraising said of the PACAC report: “The IoF has welcomed the committee’s broad support for the new system to regulate charity fundraising. Universal application, stronger sanctions and more effective regulation are all things that our members had been calling for and welcome.
“The report’s emphasis on the role of trustees and governance in driving forward changes to fundraising within their organisations is an important contribution.”
Specialist solicitors Stone King echoed the sentiment: “There is a welcome emphasis on the need for a shift in focus away from charities viewing fundraising simply as a way to raise money, towards charities and their trustees taking responsibility for a better relationship with their donors and the wider public – Sir Stuart stressed that this was not simply a fundraising issue but also a governance issue.”