While COVID was at its peak, will-writing boomed. Millions of people were forced to consider their own mortality for the first time, and many were motivated to put firm plans in place.

In 2022, the environment changed. Fears finally began to ease among the public and, for Australia, lockdowns became a thing of the past. Interestingly, will-writing remained strong and concerns that estate-planning would plummet post-pandemic turned out to be unfounded. In 2021, there were 10,121 wills written via Gathered Here. In 2022, that figure climbed by an impressive 52%, reaching 15,383.

While COVID almost certainly pushed death-planning further into the public psyche, advances in technology gave Australians the tools required to tick will-writing off the to-do list. Gradually, it’s becoming accepted as just another important life admin task. This is phenomenal news for charities and nonprofits. As more Australians
participate in digital death planning, a greater awareness of legacy giving, and higher rates of pledging will follow. Unlike traditional estate planning, many online will-writing platforms integrate bequest prompts as standard practice. This simple change has a powerful effect.

A study of probated wills found that just 7.5% included charitable gifts. In the 2023 Gifts in Wills Report, we found that 18.6% of wills completed on Gathered Here included a charity gift, up from 16% in last year’s report. The overall value of gifts has also increased, but far more dramatically. In 2021, an estimated $89 million was pledged via wills written on Gathered Here. In 2022, an estimated $224 million was pledged.

Of course, for charities, the benefit of digital death planning is multi-fold. Not only are pledges on the up, but data on individual donors, donor demographics, and giving behaviours can be collected and analysed to gain a better understanding of supporters. Gifts can also be analysed, giving fundraisers a clear picture of which types of gifts are being pledged, their estimated value, and what revenue could be expected in future.

The 2023 Gifts in Wills Report, the second annual report of its kind by Gathered Here, analyses over 15,000 wills written on the platform in the 12 months prior to January 1, 2023. It’s a wealth of information, including in-depth analysis of giving behaviours segmented across donor age, location, family structure and location. Some data points are unsurprising — for example, single will-writers with no children are the most likely to pledge a charity gift.

However, others are less easily explained. Will-writers unknown to a charity actually pledge larger specific monetary gifts compared to existing donors. Although existing donors do pledge more residual gifts, which are generally worth more.

The report also looks at how various cause areas attract different levels of support and makes informed suggestions on how charities in each sector can grow their gifts in wills revenue. 

To learn more, download your free 2023 Gifts in Wills Report today.