Charities, keep your eyes on your gifts in Wills planning throughout Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Katherine Ellis, the charity legacies expert at Thursfields, has some top tips for charities worried about the pandemic’s effect on legacy income.

I know many charities have been rocked by COVID-19, and that those working on legacies will be worried about whether this form of income will dry up.

However, I’d like to assure you that whilst the financial value of those charity gifts in Wills might be impacted in the short-term, they are still predicted to grow in the next five years, as can be seen in the latest Legacy Foresight report.

Why? Because legacy giving is a long-term form of income for charities, with the legacies received now being the result of all the hard work on brand, activities, visibility and the marketing campaigns you have undertaken in the past.

Therefore, while the value of gifts in Wills depends on the market conditions at the time the bequests are realised, legacy giving is still a reliable and robust form of fundraising for charities planning into the future. 

With that in mind, my recommendations to charities are:

1. Use every effort to not go off the radar. Fundraising events will not be possible during this period, but explore your creativity to use every other resource you have to continue to market, promote, and champion your cause whenever and wherever possible. I’m thinking of a big push online, for instance, with regularly refreshed websites, and promoting the links out on all social media channels.

 2. Where you have an existing legacy campaign continue to invest in it. This investment, in terms of both money and people, is crucial. You may have concerns about appropriate investment levels during this period, but be careful not to invest in short-term income generating strategies to the detriment of the long-term ones, such as legacy giving. This would only delay a further and later decline in funds for your organisation.
3. Where you don’t have a legacy campaign use this time to launch one. For charities without an existing legacy marketing campaign, this is your opportunity to formulate and promote one. There’s already a marked upsurge in the number of people seeking to make or update their Wills. Focus your efforts on making sure that once family and friends have been accounted for, your charity is the one that people choose to remember.

4. Plan for normality. Once this pandemic is over and we all get back to near normal, it’s likely there will be an increase in the number of legacy notifications received. Therefore, ensure your organisation is equipped to deal efficiently and appropriately with those bequests as soon as they increase.

5. Maximise values. Ensure you are maximising the value of all legacies which your organisation is currently receiving, and which it will continue to receive, during the coming months. Seek specialist advice to make sure you are doing this, including ensuring all the correct processes and procedures are followed (for example, in areas like capital gains tax and inheritance tax etc). As always, myself and the team here at Thursfields Solicitors are fully available to advise and assist with any aspect of your legacies planning

Contact me, Katherine Ellis, Senior Associate Solicitor, Charities & Communities on 0121 647 5419 or 07519 128408 or

Get In touch