Every day of every year for the last 30+ years I constantly yearn to learn MORE. The best way would be to interview the dead but that is not yet possible…….
I hope I never believe I know everything.
But where can we get the best most evidenced information so we can learn more?
Whilst cogitating this I decided to review loads of information/experience I have around our globe.
One fact shot out of the dark. We (UK) are the best in the world at legacy giving.
We are the best in the world
I have reviewed legacy income globally for years and also Will making. But never thought of looking at who is best – I assumed it was the USA. The USA population is top in terms of giving (CAF World Giving index 2019) and always is. We come 4th after USA, New Zealand and Ireland. But that is lifetime giving.
It must be remembered that the UK – thanks to Smee & Ford (www.smeeandford.co.uk) – has the most complete information in the world about legacy income and has done for over 40 years. We are staggeringly fortunate. When I was running S & F I tried to start it in seven countries but it just was (and still is) impossible to get local/national governments to give (or register) the facts.
The USA published their first ever major legacy survey (Giving USA special report – Leaving a Legacy Autumn 2019) recently. They analysed a data pool of 8,500 donors from 25 leading charities and carried out 860 interviews. This is minute when considering the USA population of 331 million but it is a good start! And at the start they state that legacy income has been over $30 billion for four years (but it was $23 billion 12 years ago). But what is static is that only 5% of those who die leave a legacy to a charity/non-profit.
It was this fact that staggered me.
In the UK it has been over 6% for years and years (Smee and Ford legacy trends 2020) but in 2019 there was a drop to 4.5% due NOT to the level of legacy giving but the level of grants of probate granted.
So, we are the world leaders. But we still want to explore. But where can we explore?
Can we really compare donors’ philanthropic patterns/needs/attitudes?
I am not sure we really can. What I think I know is that philanthropy in each country is do different. Donors in Ireland are different to UK donors (the Irish are often multiple, spontaneous donors but that now seems to be changing). USA donors are more public and talkative about their legacy giving than UK donors. Most European mainland legacy prospects are secretive/private. Canadians and Australians are more British than American (that is my view but might not be theirs!). But universally young prospects require different stories to older prospects. Asian donors are even more complicated but increasingly good legacy prospects in many parts of Asia. So, it is a complicated picture.
One fact influencing the UK performance is, I think, the fact that we have flexible/easy inheritance laws. In almost every country in the world there is “forced heirship” which negates the need for a Will (or that is the perception). In mainland Europe only 4%-10% of the population have a Will. But they have the massive advantage of being able to write their own Wills in a few minutes (a holographic Will). So, ease of action is simple!
The second fact I know is that everywhere I go, legacy giving is growing. I cannot find one country where legacy giving is due to stay the same or decrease.
Why? Every country (apart from Russia and two others) has an ageing population. Our baby boomer populations have the reputation of being massive inheritors but 72% of baby boomers I meet (a sample of about 1000 in nine countries) are concerned about their financial and family’s future: retirement, care costs, property ladder issues for children and grandchildren, financial security of children, university costs etc – so a legacy is PERFECT (it costs nothing now). That’s why 38-58% of them want to leave a charitable legacy. This generation is also savvy, understand the need for a Will and how to save tax, and are investment investigators when planning their legacy and their estates. 30 years ago, legacy givers were not savvy – they just took action to include charities they supported due to a personal experience.
So where do we explore? How can we discover more? Or should we just celebrate we are the best in the world? I will not sit still and gloat. I always yearn to learn more.
I will give you the answers when I am dead – if I can interview my fellow dead. In the meantime, I will keep meeting more prospects (32,000 so far) and keep discovering the future. And I will pass on my knowledge as a legacy for the future.
As always an interesting article Richard. We are planning to feature the importance of legacy giving in our autumn magazine. We have been incredibly fortunate with legacies this year, which is just as well as the lockdown has cost us around dearly in lost donations.