What is a legacy?

Find out more about legacy giving 

What is a legacy? 

A legacy is any gift (monetary or asset) left in a person’s Will; an instruction for part of your estate to be given to an individual or organisation after your death. More and more people around the world are leaving legacies in an increasingly diverse way. More and more people are planning to give a death time gift which lies outside their Will and Estate.

The trouble is so many people think the whole subject of “getting a Will” is horribly difficult, involves lots of horrible decisions and is impossibly hard to complete. What a load of rubbish.

The reality is – it is all incredibly simple. Yet so many charities fall into the trap of providing ‘legal definitions’ and talking in “legal language” which confuses and disengages potential donors.

Let’s  turn prospects ON and let’s inspire people with passionate language.

Let’s make it easy.

Our focus in our work is to get prospects to take action

The value of legacy giving

Legacy fundraising is the single biggest source of voluntary income to charities and nonprofit organisations in the UK and many other nations.

  • In the UK £2.85 billion is raised via legacies each year
  • In the USA legacy giving provides circa $27 billion a year
  • In Canada the figure is over $1 billion

In 2015, worldwide, 65 million people died.
By 2050 this figure will reach 95 million per year.

We are an aging population, it’s the perfect time to ask for legacies for every charity around the world.

People think it’s all about death but it’s not. Legacies are life driven and only death activated. This is an incredibly positive and empowering message for people who can fulfil their philanthropic dreams by leaving a legacy.

Each culture, religion and country has different Will making and legacy giving traditions, so it’s important to know your market and review your stakeholders to ensure that privacy is not intruded.

In most developed countries, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, we know that 50% – 85% of adults, with something to leave,  have a Will in place. However, there are exceptions to the rule and in some parts of Europe, due to Napoleonic inheritance laws, there is little motivation to make a Will because legally there are definitive rules concerning family inheritance.

What is so exciting is:

Legacy giving is growing in virtually every country where there is any form of sustained giving

Baby boomers are amazing prospects who are more than happy to share their wealth with charities as well as their families.

Many are now giving death time support which is NOT in their Will: a lump sum of their pension, insurance policies and even re-distributing their parents wealth


Radcliffe Consulting is continually researching country markets. Having taken legacy fundraising to Russia, we feel it would be a hard ask to develop this source of income in the longer term because giving in this way is just not in Russian culture. But in other countries (and excluding developed countries in fundraising terms) like Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, Israel, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Thailand, Malaysia to name a few, the potential is truly exciting.

Legacy donations are a vital source of income for many nonprofits.

Get in touch today for more information about how we can help you discover new fundraising markets.