What solicitors think about charities

June 22, 2017

Remember A Charity’s Rob Cope gives us his view on the relationship between charities and solicitors…

I’ve spent the past few months travelling up and down the country, chatting to hundreds of solicitors and Will-writers about their views on charity.

What always strikes me is that wherever I go, solicitors’ views on their working relationship with good causes usually falls into one of three camps:

First, there are those who are rather positive about charity, with many claiming to regularly talk to clients about the option of leaving a gift in their Will. These are, thankfully, the majority.

Second, there are those who tell me that they never recommend charity to clients, either due to concerns about undue influence or asserting that the client has “usually made up their mind” before they draft their Will.

But then consider the third group who claim to actively encourage clients NOT to leave a charitable gift when it comes up in conversation.  These solicitors say that charities are “greedy” and cite previous bad experiences when they’ve been just too pushy when dealing with an estate. This often results in smaller pecuniary gifts being left in a Will instead, or no gift at all.

Thankfully these are a minority. But I am always guaranteed to have at least one of these conversations wherever I go.

Our recent poll with Future Thinking, surveying hundreds of solicitors, also appears to support this.

Most do not believe working with charities is difficult.

Our benchmarking survey showed that for the vast majority, experiences of working with charities does not impact whether or not they will recommend them to clients.

Solicitors tend to rate charities as easier to deal with than Will-writers, with 69% of solicitors saying it’s ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ easy.

Difficulties dealing with charities

But, more than one in ten (12%) claim that their working relationship with charities is ‘fairly difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.

Poor engagement was highlighted as the main reason for difficulty, with more than half stating this was the case. Almost a third (31%) said they were contacted too often and requiring too much information.

Why this matters

More than one in 10 (12%) surveyed claimed that the impact of these recent experiences affected them to some or a great extent when mentioning charities to clients.

Our previous research with the Behavioural Insights Team[1] shows that when solicitors mention the charitable option to clients it doubles the number of charitable Wills written.

That’s why the fantastic work of the ILM, its members and organisations such as Remember A Charity are vital.

Building closer relationships with those who have a negative view of charity is one of the greatest challenges the legacy market faces. The prize is potentially thousands more charitable gifts each year. If we get it right, it could be our biggest legacy of all.

Rob Cope is director of Remember A Charity, a consortium of more than 180 charities and more than 1,000 legal firms working together to make gifts in Wills the social norm.


[1] Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team, Applying Behavioural Insights to Charitable Giving, 2013

By Rob Cope


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