Gifts in Wills to Charities Treble in New “Nudge” Study

May 28, 2013

Three times as many Britons would leave a gift to charities that they are passionate about in their Will, if their solicitor reminded them to consider this opportunity, according to results of a new trial. 

With gifts in Wills currently bringing in £2 billion per year for UK charities, 13% of all charitable donations, a trebling in the number of people leaving a gift could have a significant financial impact for good causes. 

Gifts in Wills are incredibly important to UK charities, without this income charities would have to cut services and many would simply not exist. Two out of three guide dogs and six out of ten life boat launches are paid for by gifts in Wills, as is over a third of Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work.  Gifts in Wills are the equivalent of 19 Comic Reliefs appeals each year.

The legacy giving trial by the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team showed that when solicitors or Will writers simply mentioned to people that leaving a gift to charity was an option, the percentage of people who did so rose from just 5% to 10%. They rose again, to 15%, when people were also asked if there were any charities that they were passionate about. An additional £1 million of gifts was left to charities in Wills as a result of the trial alone. 

The trial, which looked at over 1,000 new Wills over six months, was conducted by The Behavioural Insights Team in partnership with Remember A Charity and The Co-operative Legal Services.  

Rob Cope, Director of Remember A Charity, believes the increase is due to the fact that significant numbers of people are supportive of the idea of leaving a gift to charity but far fewer remember to do so when it comes to actually writing their Wills.

“We are a very charitable nation and the idea of leaving a gift to charity appeals to many people,” said Cope.  “Our latest consumer research shows that nearly half of people have thought about leaving money to charity in their Wills but only around 7% of people currently leave a gift, that’s a big gap.”

“The trial shows that if solicitors simply ask people to consider leaving a gift then this gap closes significantly.  It is clearly a suggestion that people are warm to and many more include a gift to charity as a direct result.  We’re calling today on all solicitors and Will writers to remind their clients that leaving a gift in their Will is a way of continuing to support their favourite causes after they’re gone.”
Christina Blacklaws, Director of The Co-operative Legal Services said: “The results of this trial show both the generosity of our customers and the impact that a simple reminder can have on raising much needed funds for worthy causes.   It is very simple and easy for people to do and we’re very pleased to have been part of this successful trial.  We do now ensure that a conversation about charitable legacies is included in all our conversations with customers.”

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

“We are working with partners to see how we can make it easier and more compelling to give. This study shows how generous people are prepared to be, if asked in the right way.”

To find out more about how to leave a gift to charity in a Will visit


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Aarti Bulsara Tel: 0207 861 3104                  
James Ralph Tel: 0207 861 3037
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Additional Information:

Behavioural Insights Trial On Legacy Giving

The trial was conducted over six months by the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team, in partnership with a Remember A Charity and Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) and looked at 1,000 new Wills.  In 2012 CLS instigated an “Always mention” policy, under which their Will writers prompted every customer to consider including a charity in their Will.   The trial compared data from customers prior to the instigation of this policy with two treatments, randomly assigned to two groups of Will writers. Under the first treatment solicitors were required to ask all customers “have you considered leaving any money to charity in your Will?” Under the second, customers were told “many of our customers choose to leave money to charity in their Will – are there any causes you’re passionate about?” Five per cent of the unprompted group from before the “Always mention” policy included a gift to charity in their Wills. This rose to 10.8% for the first treatment and 15.4% for the second treatment. The second treatment also saw a significant increase in the average size of the gifts included in the Wills.

Remember A Charity

Remember A Charity was formed in 2000 and now has over 140 member charities, who work together to encourage more people to consider leaving a gift to charities in their Will, after they’ve looked after their family and friends. Gifts in Wills form the foundation of UK charities.  Without them, many would not exist. Remember A Charity is the Institute of Fundraising’s long-term campaign to increase legacy giving to charities.

Behavioural Insights Team (Cabinet Office)

The Behavioural Insights Team was established in 2010 to find ways of encouraging, supporting and enabling people to make better choices for themselves. Since then it has delivered rapid results - identifying tens of millions of pounds of savings, spreading understanding of behavioural approaches within government, and developing a reputation as a world leader in its field.

Cooperative Legal Services

The Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) was established in 2006 and, in 2012, became the first major consumer brand to be granted Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status. This means it is now authorised to offer a range of legal services to the public that were previously only available through private solicitors. The change means that consumers now have greater choice and access to legal advice than they ever had before.  The Co-operative Legal Services is committed to offering straightforward, value-for-money services and prides itself on developing the range of legal services it can offer on a fixed fee basis, meaning customers know exactly what they will be paying from the very start of the process.

The Co-operative Legal Services provides the following services to consumers: - Will writing, conveyancing (through panel solicitors), employment law, probate, family law and personal injury claims.  Co-operative Legal Services is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under registration number 567391.

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