Today, legacy and in-memory giving are worth £5 billion to UK charities. That’s a tenth of all charity income – something to make fundraising directors and Chief Executives take notice. And over the next twenty-five years, the value of legacy and in-memory donations will double in real terms, reaching £10 billion by 2045. There are several reasons why we expect them to grow; rising deaths, the wealthy baby boomer generation, increased openness to making a gift and the cumulative efforts of British fundraisers to raise awareness and inspire action!
The donor landscape will change
People leaving or giving money in 2045 will have fundamentally different life experiences, attitudes and expectations to the donors we currently deal with. Not least, they will be ethnically diverse and multi-faith. 11% of Brits born in the 1960s come from an Asian, black, mixed or other ethnic backgrounds. 7% of them belong to a non-Christian faith group. Understanding and respecting the beliefs, traditions and motivations of all our legacy and in-memory donors will be even more important.
Further to this, a new generation of child-free women (now in their fifties) represents a significant future window of opportunity for legacy fundraisers. Educated, generous and feisty, they will become an increasingly powerful force in legacy giving.
It’s my digital life
Virtual reality and other digital innovations will bring the supporter experience to life; giving them behind the scenes glimpses of the organisation and its work, and envisaging the transformation their future gift will bring. International development charities are already embracing this technology, directly connecting donors and beneficiaries around the globe to great effect. All causes should now be thinking about the stories they can tell, and the assets they can showcase in digital form; to build trust, inspire gifts and demonstrate impact.
Remember me when I’m gone. Not like that, like this.
In future, people will be far more comfortable thinking and talking about death. We will decide in advance exactly how we want to be remembered, leaving close friends and families with no room for doubt about this. The escalating level of personalisation we’ve seen in funerals and remembrance rituals will be ratcheted up to another level altogether, much of it at the behest of the person who has died.
Further to this, some of us will choose to give a ‘living legacy’ of our money, ideas and experiences to the people and organisations we love, while we’re still around to see the results – and to bask a little in the glow of our generosity. And why not? As a supporter once said to us, a legacy is the biggest gift you never get the thank you letter for.
Online and on the money
Wills will change beyond all recognition, becoming dynamic documents that can be instantly updated, 24/7. Film, audio, texts, and even holograms will be accepted as testamentary evidence. This ‘always on’ environment is a red flag for charities when it comes to legacy stewardship. Whereas a change of heart about a legacy to charity used to rely on a cumbersome visit to a solicitor to action, by 2045 your charity can be written out of a will at a single touch. Turn that on its head, and technology can propel your charity into more wills without the hassle and expense of commissioning a codicil. Either way, your legacy stewardship – and indeed your wider supporter stewardship – for good or bad, will have more frequent and instantaneous outcomes.
Furthermore, when wills are written, we will not just think about bequeathing money, but also make decisions about our intellectual property, our knowledge, skills and connections – and how these could be used by the people that follow after us. It won’t be uncommon for people to create avatars of themselves that can continue to exert influence from beyond the grave, carrying on conversations that reflect their lifetime values and preoccupations. The line between life and death will become blurred in this respect too.
The next decades will bring huge – and as yet largely untapped – potential for growth in the legacies and in-memory sectors. We look forward to continuing to monitor, understand and shape this vital sector alongside our clients over the next twenty-five years and beyond.
Legacy Foresight’s report, Giving Tomorrow: Legacy and In-Memory 2045, showcases fresh thinking on where legacy and in-memory giving will be in twenty-five years, including ten predictions for how giving will change and the implications for fundraisers. The report is based on our analysis as well as featuring opinions from well-known industry experts.
Meg contributed to DSC’s Legacy and In-Memory Fundraising, find out more.