10 May 2013
• One in three people (32%) say they get a warm feeling from knowing they are leaving a gift to a charity in their will, says Macmillan Cancer Support
• Leaving something positive behind to the next generation ranks second in a list of what would make people happy at the end of their life
• Psychologist Dr Funke, commenting on the survey* commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support, explains the psychological motivations and benefits of giving as the charity encourages people to consider leaving a gift in their will
One in three people (32%) claim that leaving a gift to a charity in their will would give them a warm feeling that they were giving something back, according to new findings from Macmillan Cancer Support. A further fifth (17%) admitted that it would make their life feel more worthwhile. The research revealed today shows that the psychological benefits of leaving a gift to a favourite charity match those delivered from a good stint of retail therapy.
Selfless acts can also provide instant gratification. The survey of 2,000* people found that almost as many respondents choose to do something good for others to boost their happiness (25%) as indulge in retail therapy (26%). Most people (69%) agreed that the main happiness-boosting activity is spending time with friends and family. However, exercise lost out as just 22% say they workout to boost their endorphins.
When asked what would give people the strongest sense of well-being when looking at their lives as a whole, leaving something helpful behind for the next generation ranked high on the list, second only to having spent a life surrounded by family and friends (50%). In fact, more than two thirds (67%) said they liked the idea of leaving something helpful or positive behind after they’re gone.
This compared favourably to other life achievements such as having been financially successful in life, which would give fewer than one in ten (8%) a sense of psychological well-being, or having been popular with friends (just 7%).
Other than having been directly affected by a charity (37%), the main motivation respondents cited for considering leaving a gift to a charity in their will was to give themselves a sense of well-being (16%), acknowledging that giving isn’t an entirely selfless act as it benefits both giver and recipient.
However, in terms of the life moments that motivate people to choose to include a charity in their will, there is also a clear pattern. The majority of respondents cited distressing times such as the death of a loved one (40%), illness of a loved one (38%) or personal illness (34%) as occasions that would trigger them to consider donating a legacy to a charity. This is far higher than the more positive life moments such as having a baby (11%), or going through a particularly good and happy time in life (8%).
Psychologist Dr Funke explains “to me, Macmillan Cancer Support’s research indicates a deep-seated human need to leave a legacy behind and an aversion for simply disappearing after death with nothing tangible to be remembered by.
'It’s also clear that people are motivated to act on this need at times of personal tragedy, perhaps at a time when they feel their own mortality most acutely.
'Understanding how giving and selflessness can boost happiness at any time, I’d encourage people to give, if they can, when the going is good too.'
And donating to a charity in a will doesn’t just boost the givers’ happiness; it also improves their reputation amongst their peers. Of the people who know someone who has chosen to leave a gift to a charity in their will, half (50%) said they were happy that the money would go to a good cause, 28% were impressed by their generosity and a further quarter (24%) admitted that they were humbled by the gesture.
However, despite the clear link between doing good and well-being under a quarter (23%) of respondents know someone who has left a gift to a charity in their will.
Helen Eddleston, Legacy Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support adds: 'I love that an act of generosity is a two-way reward, benefiting both giver and receiver. The gifts Macmillan Cancer Support receives from people in their wills are both vital and invaluable in helping us to ensure no one has to face cancer alone. They make up a third of all of our income – no matter what size every legacy helps Macmillan provide vital support to people affected by cancer. It’s gratifying to know that when people complete their will with a charity included, they’re getting a boost out of it too.'
To find out how you can leave a gift to Macmillan in your will call 0800 107 4448 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/legacies
For further information contact:
Rachel Martin, Media and PR Fundraising Manager on 020 7840 4738 (out of office 07801 307068) or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:
*Research by OnePoll in April 2013 of 2,000 participants across the UK comes from two polls conducted online by Consumer Analysis Ltd amongst 2,000 across the UK in April 2012 and by OnePoll amongst 1,000 across the UK in in November 2012.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The fundraisers who make it all possible.
Over a third of the services we provide are made possible through the generous support provided by people leaving us a gift in their will.
We turn every legacy we receive into vital support for families living with cancer and without these precious gifts we wouldn’t be able to support as many families as we do today, let alone all those who need our support in the future.
We are Macmillan Cancer Support