Damian O’Broin: Why experienced fundraisers need to stay open to new ideasDecember 13, 2023
Special focus: Insights on legacy giving across EuropeDecember 13, 2023
For this month’s Fundraising Europe, we hear from legacy experts across Europe, shining a spotlight on legacy giving in three very different countries: Finland, Austria, and Spain.
Austria – Markus Aichelburg-Rumerskirch, Vergissmeinnicht project manager
Legacy fundraising in Austria is really taking off. Imagine this: in 2018, about 33% of people over 60 had a will. Now, that number has jumped to 43%. That’s a big increase!
Plus, more people know about legacy giving. Back in 2018, about 76% of those over 40 knew they could leave money to a charity in their will. By 2021, this had shot up to 91%. And more are considering it too with the number of over 40s thinking about leaving a donation in their will doubling in this time, from 8% to 16%.
Among those without kids, 40% can see themselves leaving a gift in their will. This shows a lot of promise. And thanks to our campaign Vergissmeinnicht, more organisations are getting involved in legacy fundraising. Since the campaign started in 2012, legacy income has rocketed from €55 million to €120 million by 2022. Now, for every 9 Euros donated in Austria, 1 Euro comes from a gift in a will as more and more Austrians realise that they can do a lot of good in this way.
One thing that sets the Austrian campaign apart is our partnership with the Chamber of Notaries. This alliance gives us a robust support system for our work. In Austria, every notary in the Chamber gets 5 copies of our Inheritance Law Guide. On top of that, every three years, we collaborate with the Chamber on a study about legacy giving and charity gifts. This gives us useful data for news reports and media work. We can also offer local news interesting facts about their area, thanks to our regional data breakdown.
Working with Austria’s biggest private funeral home also gives our campaign a good push. Besides that, we focus on holding events about inheritance law and wills with notaries and reaching out directly to potential legacy donors. Our Google Ads campaign is a big help in sharing our Inheritance Law Guide. And through our Vergissmeinnicht magazine, which we send to everyone who orders the guide, we consistently remind people about the idea of gifts in wills.
Legacy fundraising in Austria still has challenges to overcome. We need to help people understand that they don’t have to stick to the law alone when planning their will, but they can steer their final wishes themselves.
The idea of bequeathing part of an estate to an organisation, alongside provisions for own children, is still a path less travelled. Over 90% of legators don’t have children. Clearly, there’s still a need to boost awareness and education in this area.
Finland – Tessa Robertsson, communication and advocacy coordinator at VaLa, which coordinates Hyvä Testamentti
Legacy fundraising income is on the rise in Finland, although it remains relatively small compared to many other European nations. As a percentage of overall private fundraising (which includes foundations, individuals, and companies), it currently stands at 5%.
A key challenge is raising awareness about the option of leaving a charitable bequest and many people remain unaware of this possibility. If an individual does not create a will and has no heirs, their assets revert to the state. However, our surveys indicate shifting attitudes. In 2015, only 1% expressed a willingness to include a charitable bequest, but by 2022, this figure had increased to 10%.
In addition, in contrast to several other European countries, Finns are not required to officially register their wills. Consequently, the precise number of individuals who have created a will and have included a charitable cause remains unknown. Our studies suggest that approximately 19% of Finns have prepared a will, and 10% of both men and women express a willingness to include charitable bequests.
Unlike many other nations, we have refrained from employing free will marketing campaigns in Finland. Ethical considerations drive this decision, as nonprofit organizations must approach this subject with a high degree of sensitivity.
In 2023 the Finnish Fundraising Association (VaLa) conducted an extensive investigation into the landscape of legacy fundraising within its member organizations, alongside an exploration of the evolving requirements of our national campaign Hyvä Testamentti (Good Will).
A total of 15 Good Will organizations and 17 other member organizations responded to the questionnaire. Notably, we discovered that the organizations affiliated with the campaign disclosed that they had collectively received an impressive €18 million in legacies over the preceding three years, resulting in an average legacy value of approximately €1.2 million per organization. In contrast, organizations not part of the campaign had acquired legacies worth €1.5mn during the same period, equating to an average legacy value of just over 82,000 euros per organization.
Furthermore, the variance in the number of wills left to organizations was conspicuous between the two distinct groups. Good Will organizations reported being aware of over 77 legacies designated to them in the past three years, while other member organizations acknowledged only 20 such legacies. This divergence underscores a significant disparity in legacy bequests. On average, organizations outside the Good Will campaign had been bequeathed just a single legacy each, whereas Good Will organizations enjoyed an average of around five legacy bequests.
Spain – Leyre Ayastuy, Haz Testamento Solidario lead & senior creative consultant at Daryl Upsall Consulting
In Spain, the law is very protective of an individual’s heirs. It’s mandatory that part of the inheritance is reserved for family, and only a third can be freely allocated to unrelated individuals or to charities. Because of that, Spanish people often assume their legacy is defined by the law – so why dedicate time and effort to writing a will?
In fact, nearly 40% of people used to die without one but since 2007 the average annual growth in will writing has been 1-4%, rising in 2021 by 15% year on year as people were confronted with their mortality, before dropping back in 2022 to pre-COVID rates.
At Haz Testamento Solidario we gather information from our 22 member organizations. In 2021, the data showed that the number of people interested in legacy giving and reaching out to organizations had increased by 101% from 2020, and in 2022 it increased by 154% versus 2021. More and more people are telling charities they have included a gift in their will. On top of that, legacy income increased by nearly 35% in 2021 compared to 2020. and in 2022 was up 22% on 2021, to €40.9 million. So recent data shows optimistic developments.
I think the difference to other countries is time. In the UK, donors and organizations are used to legacy fundraising because they have been talking about it for a longer time. Like other Southern European markets, we started promoting legacy giving later so the Spanish market is still at an early stage. Back in 2007, when we started a joint campaign for the first time, no one really talked about legacy giving. We still have to stimulate conversations today, not just about legacy giving but about will writing in general, but the Spanish media has started talking more about both. Slowly things are changing, and growth is a fact.
We also find that younger generations are much more open to legacy giving. Our recent study shows that a younger target group segment of people aged 45 to 50 is very open to talking about it. Here in Spain, younger generations have fewer children, and they are less willing to commit themselves to marriage. Young generations feel more independent; they know what they want and are free of taboos. Trends are changing.
In our 2022 study, we saw too the youngest segment of respondents was also more open to legacy giving. So, if you add these trends to the facts, we are very positive about legacy giving’s potential. Gifts in wills to charities are going to be the more obvious and natural choice for people with no children or grandchildren and for people who are more aware of the need for nonprofit organizations to care for the planet and vulnerable people, research treatments for cancer and other diseases.