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10 good causes to remember in your will

Charities needing legacies from people's wills to continue their work

Did you know that many local and national charities depend on charitable donations left in wills? Leaving a legacy to a charity in your will is a great way to #HaveYourSay on how you want to change the world, from helping society’s most vulnerable to protecting nature.

Here are just 10 of the hundreds of charities in the UK that are hugely grateful for legacies that help them continue their vital work. Visit the Remember A Charity website to find the perfect good cause to remember in your will.

1. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

A golden retriever guide dog and puppy in training

Every hour, someone in the UK will lose their sight. Guide Dogs for the Blind breeds and trains dogs to provide invaluable support for people who have become visually impaired – but nearly two out of three guide dogs are funded by bequests left in people’s wills.

Lynette, who was 19 years old when her eyesight deteriorated, explains how her guide dog Pippa changed her life: “Before I got Pippa I was struggling just to walk to the shops. I didn’t have any confidence. Now I’m able to do what I want, when I want to do it. I'm finishing my degree, doing a part-time job... and my friends can be my friends, not my carers.”

2. Alzheimer’s Research UK

Carer holding the hand of an old man with dementia

Over one million people in the UK will have dementia by 2025, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK, with Alzheimer’s disease being the number one cause. This year alone, nearly a quarter of a million people will develop dementia – one every three minutes.

Organisations like Alzheimer’s Research UK are fighting back, with pioneering research into diagnosis, treatment and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s. Gifts in wills fund approximately one in three of their vital research projects. With the number of families losing a loved one to dementia increasing, helping Alzheimer’s Research UK is a legacy that really could change lives.

3. Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

Three RNLI volunteers on a lifeboat A rescue launch with trained lifeboat crew. Photo by Ian Foster for the RNLI

The RNLI has been helping people in peril at sea since 1824, with its 350 lifeboats saving lives and covering over 19,000 miles of coastline. Six out of 10 of RNLI rescue launches rely on charity legacies and the organisation says much of its work would not be possible without people leaving a legacy in their will.

“Gifts in wills help bring our brave lifeboat crews home safely,” says the RNLI. “Your legacy will be the protective kit they can count on. The training that keeps them safe. And the strong lifeboat that ploughs through fierce winds and waves to reach people in distress.”

4. Cancer Research UK

A crowd of people getting ready for a race, dressed in pink Cancer Research’s Race for Life fundraising race. Photo by Cancer Research UK.

Over the last 40 years, cancer research has doubled the survival rates of people diagnosed with cancer. Today more than half of people diagnosed will be successfully treated. Within the next 20 years, Cancer Research UK wants three-quarters of people to survive a cancer diagnosis, through prevention, early diagnosis and new and improved treatments. Legacy gifts left in wills make up more than a third of the funding this charity needs to continue its fight against the disease.

“I think it’s so worthwhile for people to leave something to Cancer Research UK in their will because you’ll be leaving a gift, the gift of life, really,” said Ian, whose two-year-old daughter, Neve, survived leukaemia thanks to pioneering stem cell transplant treatment. “If it wasn’t for kind, generous people leaving gifts in their wills, we wouldn’t have Neve with us today.”

5. NSPCC

A crying child

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is dedicated to protecting children and helping children rebuild their lives after abuse. It runs Childline, a free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people, which received nearly 300,000 calls last year alone.

Rita, an NSPCC supporter, said the charity was there for her when she was younger and she’d be leaving a legacy in her will: “My mother took away my childhood. I decided to use my experience to do something positive and leave a gift to the NSPCC. I’m doing something for children and it feels great!”

6. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

A vet examining a puppy at Battersea Dogs Home Animals get the medical attention they need, no matter how serious their condition. Photo by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

With three centres in South East England, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is famous for its promise to never turn away a dog or cat, caring from them until they find a new home, however long that takes. Established in 1860, Battersea accepts any breed, at any age, including abandoned pets with serious medical or behavioural problems.

The home doesn’t receive any government funding, so it relies on donated income to care for over 7,000 animals every year that need help and a loving new family. A large percentage of their donated funds come from gifts in wills, helping to rehome dogs and cats with a loving new owner.

7. The Lullaby Trust

Mother cradling her baby's feet as they sleep

The Lullaby Trust works to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and promote expert guidance on safer sleep for babies to reduce the number of sudden deaths. The charity has been instrumental in reducing sudden infant deaths by over 85 per cent since 1991 – to the lowest rate of SIDS on record.

It also supports over 500 bereaved families every year after the sudden death of a baby. By remembering them in your will, you can ensure the Lullaby Trust has the funds to keep supporting these families, researching the causes and prevention of SIDS, and reach out to families with young babies to offer them better sleep advice.

8. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Kestrel perched in branches on a nature reserve A kestrel at the Fowlmere RSPB nature reserve. Photo by Tim Felce.

The RSPB is the UK’s biggest nature conservation charity, protecting the countryside and the diverse wildlife that lives there. Its work ranges from species recovery and large-scale conservation, to campaigning and influencing Government policy to help protect vulnerable species. It highlights the challenges facing native British wildlife and encourages the public to get proactive in protecting the nature around them.

The charity says that one in three of their vital conservation projects is made possible by gifts left in wills. Remembering the RSPB in your will is a way to protect Britain’s green spaces and native birdlife for future generations.

9. St Mungo’s Community Housing Association

A team member from St Mungo's taling to a homeless man St Mungo’s helps people recover from the issues that cause homelessness. Photo by St Mungo’s.

St Mungo’s outreach teams go out each night to meet people who are homeless and to help them off the streets. With 17 outreach teams it is one of the largest providers of outreach services in the country. Each night it offers a bed and support to more than 2,700 people across the South and South West. St Mungo’s believes that people can – and do – recover from the issues that cause homelessness. It works to prevent homelessness and support people at every step of their recovery from homelessness.

The association relies on charitable donations to make its work possible. Just £25 provides a hostel ‘welcome pack’ for people using St Mungo’s services, while £50 could pay for a counselling session. A legacy gift of £100 can buy resources for St Mungo’s Recovery Colleges, a learning programme aiming to transform lives through education.

10. British Heart Foundation

Female scientist researching heart disease in a lab Researchers are exploring causes, treatments and potential cures for heart disease. Photo by the British Heart Foundation.

Coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer in the UK. The British Heart Foundation is working to keep people healthy, as well as teach lifesaving CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to the public and research the causes, treatments and cures of heart disease. Half of all the British Heart Foundation’s voluntary income comes from legacies left in wills.

If you leave a legacy gift of £450, you could pay for the essential kit and equipment for a laboratory scientist researching heart disease. £1,000 can buy a month’s supply of protein ‘building blocks’ for scientists researching ways to build new working heart tissue, while £11,000 would fund a group of scientists working on a heart disease research programme for a month.

Follow Remember A Charity In Your Will Week on social media with #HaveYourSay, or visit the website to find out more.