Charities received the highest number of bequests on record in 2022

Published 26 January 2023
Figures from Smee and Ford show that 2022 was another strong year for charitable gifts in wills in England & Wales. 

In 2022, Smee & Ford identified 36,992 charitable estates out of a total of 231,582 estates processed that included a will; meaning almost 16% of wills processed included a gift to charity.

The total value of charitable estates exceeded the prediction of £20bn in our September update, finishing on £21.3bn, the highest on record. The number of individual bequests within charitable estates granted probate in 2022 was also the highest number we have ever recorded, finishing on 123,298.*

The value of legacies continued to be significant for charities in 2022, with 31% of legacy income coming from bequests worth over £500k. A further 22% came from bequests valued between £100-£250k, meaning over half of all legacy income in 2022 came from high value bequests worth over £100k.

At the time of writing, not all organisations have yet reported their final accounts to the Charity Commission, so the final legacy income figure for 2022 is not yet confirmed, but as a conservative estimate we predict it may sit at around £3.5bn.

The full and final statistics will be shared in our annual Legacy Trends report which is free for everyone in the sector to access. Register here to request a copy as soon as it is available.

For more information on Smee & Ford legacy giving data feel free to get in touch or learn more here.


*Please note, these statistics relate to England and Wales only as Scottish wills have not been included

It is encouraging to see that 2022 was another strong year for legacy income and that the number of charitable bequests recorded in wills has reached a new record. The Smee & Ford team look forward to continuing to support the great work that charity legacy teams do and ensuring that legators’ wishes to support causes close to their hearts are realised.

Polly Avgherinos, Managing Director at Smee & Ford

In today’s volatile economic environment, it’s hugely encouraging that gifts in Wills continue to be such a significant and vital source of income for UK charities. More and more fundraisers tell us that legacy income is what’s enabling them to continue delivering services and, perhaps what’s most exciting, we’re seeing growing recognition among senior management of the importance of shoring up legacy fundraising teams and investment to protect their charities’ futures.