When Gathered Here began offering online wills in late 2020, consumer awareness was low, and many Australians were unfamiliar with the concept of digital estate planning. In the first week, just 80 wills were written and only one gift was pledged to charity. We’ll admit, it was
a slow start.

Fast-forward to 2024 and the landscape looks very different. Since those early days, almost 40,000 wills have been written via the Gathered Here platform and an estimated $460 million pledged to hundreds of worthy causes. It’s fair to say interest has picked up.

Our latest report, The 2024 Gifts in Wills Report, offers insight into that phenomenal change. Analysing over 36,000 wills written between 1 November 2020 and 31 October 2023, it identifies trends in giving behaviour, donor demographics and campaign success. The rate of legacy giving is arguably among the most important data points of the report, particularly when compared to the national average.

In 2014, one of the most substantial and frequently-cited studies — Encouraging Charitable Bequests by Australians — analysed 3,793 probated wills and found that 6.5% included a charitable bequest. A further 1.4% included a contingent bequest. For example, the gift may have been contingent on a primary beneficiary dying before the will-writer.

When looking at the 36,394 wills created via Gathered Here over a three-year period, the results are vastly different. Almost three times as many wills (18%) included a charitable gift. Only 1% of those were contingent. It’s no surprise. Online wills are making it much easier for people to support causes they care about. Unlike a solicitor’s office, every will-writer is asked if they’d like to pledge a gift, they’re given a wide array of suggestions, and information is pre-filled for hundreds of different organisations.

Of course, it’s not just the gifts themselves that have value. The digital nature of online wills makes it far easier to collect donor information, with their consent. Crucially, a growing number of will-writers are giving that consent. 

In the first year of our study, only 24% of gifters consented to sharing their information with the NFPs included in their wills. In the second year, that figure jumped to 41%. In the third and most recent year of the study, we finally saw more than half of donors (51%) share their information willingly.

This change in behaviour is a positive sign for NFPs, as they can keep donors close to the organisation, work to ensure the longevity of the gift, and potentially encourage donors towards more regular giving activity. 

To learn more about the online legacy giving environment in Australia, including who is pledging gifts, which causes are claiming the largest share of support and tactics to increase future revenue, download The 2024 Gifts in Wills Report here.