Today marks the start of Remember a Charity Week, an annual awareness week which aims to encourage people to leave a gift to a charity in their wills.
Kind-hearted Brits left gifts in wills to 10,670 different charities last year, the highest number recorded over the past decade, according to research marking the start of Remember a Charity Week. The Smee & Ford data reveals that there were 37,242 charitable estates in 2021, a 10.7% increase on the number reported for 2020. The value of charitable estates increased by nearly £2bn from £17.9bn to £19.8bn, a growth of almost 11%.
Gifts in wills are a critical source of funding for charitable services across the country, raising more than £3 billion for good causes annually. However, the Covid-19 pandemic hit charities hard, with many seeing a decrease in donations at a time when they were needed most, putting their vital work at risk. With the continuing impact of the pandemic, changing economic circumstances and rise in cost of living, many charities are yet again experiencing an increase in demand, whilst struggling with their own additional costs.
Tina Seymour, chief executive at Gloucestershire based charity Hope for Tomorrow, which provides the NHS with mobile cancer care units, said: “Sadly, one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. We help by enabling NHS trusts to deliver cancer care in local communities, rather than patients having to make long and sometimes stressful journeys to hospitals for their treatment.
“With the NHS and household disposable incomes under increasing pressure, we can make an immediate impact by helping to increase treatment capacity and save patients money by reducing their need to repeatedly travel long distances. Leaving a gift in a will to Hope for Tomorrow will reduce the distress for patients at a difficult time. Last year over 26,000 cancer treatments were provided on our vehicles. We are fortunate to receive roughly £100,000 each year from generous individuals who have left a gift to Hope for Tomorrow. This phenomenal amount could keep all of our units running for a month, helping over 9,000 patients. The difference our donors make is truly heart-warming.”
Liz Murray, a former oncologist, gives regularly to the charity and has made the decision to leave it a gift in her will. On the importance of leaving a will she said: “I am absolutely sold on the idea of wills. People fondly assume that their family will get the money when they die even without a will, or that their “common-law” partner will inherit as a spouse, but this isn’t automatically the case. A will saves all the arguments such as ‘He wanted to support the allotment association.’ versus ‘No he didn’t, he’d fallen out with them.’
“Knowing how cancer treatment can make you feel, to try and travel one-and-a-half hours each way is just incomprehensible. Chemotherapy causes sheer fatigue – it’s like someone has taken your batteries out – you can’t think, you can’t move, you’re just done in – and the nausea doesn’t help. This is why I’ve chosen to leave a gift in my will to Hope for Tomorrow. It’s a way for me to make a difference and support people living with cancer even when I’m gone.”
Former head judge of Strictly Come Dancing, Len Goodman, will also be lending his support to the week.
Len Goodman, head judge on Dancing with the Stars, commented: “I am honoured to be supporting Remember a Charity Week for the fifth year running and to have met some of the inspiring people working hard for a range of charitable causes. However big or small, leaving a gift to charity in your will once your friends and family are taken care of is a marvellous thing. I’ve done it myself – it’s so simple and it really does make an enormous difference!”
Further information on leaving a gift in a will to Hope for Tomorrow is available at www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk/legacy