Donations to charity from first-time will writers could increase by 40 per cent if lawyers were to ‘normalise’ gift giving in wills according to new research.
The study revealed that the way in which a wills solicitor introduces and talks about making a charitable donation can affect the likelihood of people leaving money to charity in their will.
The most effective way to encourage people to gift money to charity in their will was found to be communicating the message that legacy donations are the norm.
Michael Sanders, head of research for the Legacy Giving and Behavioural Insights Report, said: “We already know that mentioning legacy giving as part of the will writing process can have a significant impact on giving levels, but the evidence from these new trials indicates that specific language used in conversations can make a real difference to the way that people respond in a face to face setting.”
The research was launched by Remember a Charity and was based on trials looking at eight firms of wills solicitors. By logging over 2,600 interactions with clients they discovered that most people are happy to talk about charities whilst involved in the will writing process. Nearly half of the respondents in an online survey conducted as a part of the research went as far as saying that inheritance and welfare solicitors have ‘a duty’ to ensure clients are aware of the option they have to make a legacy donation as a part of their will.
Whilst the study showed that more first-time will writers would include a charitable donation in their will if gift giving was normalised the opposite might be true for those re-writing a will – perhaps discouraged from doing so if the subject were to be brought up by their lawyer.
The impact of implying that legacy donations are the social norm was found to vary according to different peoples individual circumstances.