Record amounts left to military charities in wills

Saturday 25 June 

People are leaving record amounts of money to armed forces charities in their wills, according to new analysis released today by the Charities Aid Foundation.

The research, released as the nation marks Armed Forces Day, shows that legacies left to charities supporting veterans and servicemen and women increased by 41% between 2007 and 2014 – the most recent year for which figures are available.

A record £74.4 million was left in the wills of generous benefactors in 2014.

The increase in legacy income across all UK charities over the same period was 26% - showing that people leaving a charitable legacy are increasingly likely to be supporting armed forces charities.

Overall, people have donated more than £1.7 billion to good causes supporting troops and veterans in the seven years from 2007 to 2014.  Donations from the public have become increasingly generous, with voluntary donations to armed forces charities increasing by 81% between 2007 and 2014.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations which helps hundreds of thousands of people give to good causes, and provides financial services to support charities. It has its roots in a charitable legacy left by a World War I soldier who lost his life in the Battle of the Somme. 

Today’s analysis, based on Charity Commission data, found:

  • The increase in legacy income for armed forces is in line with a rise in overall donations.  Overall donations made to military charities per year, including money left by people in wills, has increased from £144.7m in 2007 to £262.2m in 2014 – an increase of 81%;
  • The military charities which received the most legacy income in 2014 were the Royal British Legion (£16m), Blind Veterans UK (£11.3m), the RAF Benevolent Fund (10m), Help for Heroes (£8.1m),  The Royal Star & Garter Homes (£6.4m) and the Gurkha Welfare Trust (£5.7m);
  • Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion saw the biggest increase in annual legacy income between 2013 and 2014 (£4.8m and £4.8m respectively).

Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at CAF said:

“Armed forces charities offer incredible support and services to serving troops, veterans and their families and it is clear to see how much their work is valued by the British public.

“Our analysis reveals that people donate tens of millions to military charities in their wills every year and that figure is on the rise. It is proof that the tremendous sacrifices our troops make in the service of Great Britain matters profoundly to so many of us.

“Many of us will be marking Armed Forces Day today by making a contribution to a good cause as we reflect on the contributions made by our servicemen and women from veterans of World War I, a hundred years ago, to those who served in more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Britain is one of the most generous countries in the world and these figures shows how people give to causes they care about and believe in what charities can achieve. Armed forces charities are great ambassadors for the important role that civil society plays in all aspects of life in the UK.”

Armed Forces Day, formerly Veteran’s Day, was introduced in 2006, to provide the British public with a chance to show their support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.

Figures published by legacy experts Smee & Ford reveal that one in six people in the UK leave a legacy to charity in their will and 35% of charitable wills contain just one charitable bequest.


To identify armed forces charities we adopted the definition used by the Directory of Social Change in their ‘UK Armed Forces Charities’ report and database:, focusing specifically on ‘welfare charities’ operating in England and Wales (n= 386).


# charities


Total donations

































‘Total donations’ is ‘Voluntary income’ as defined by the Charity Commission. Voluntary income includes the following sources:

1.        Gifts and donations received including legacies

2.        Any tax reclaimed on amounts received under gift aid

3.        Grants that provide core funding or are of a general nature

4.        Membership subscriptions and sponsorships where these are, in substance, donations

5.        Gifts in kind and donated services and facilities

For the latest figures on overall legacy trends, please refer to the Smee & Ford report

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