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Friday, February 13, 2009

The widow's mite

Last night I had a drink with somebody who runs a small charity with magazine attached. He was explaining how a lot of their income comes from people who make a bequest of a small percentage of their modest estates. If that estate turns out to include a house in the south-east of England the small percentage can amount to a significant sum. That certainly applied before house price inflation went into reverse. Because many of his subscribers were elderly he was accustomed to the call from a widow informing them that their husband had died and the subscription should stop. These calls came about a year after the death. This chimed with the experience of one former colleague of mine who was editor-in-chief of a well-known magazine with a reader profile on the far side of 65. He reckoned that at any given time about 10% of his subscribers were dead. Their subscriptions hadn't been cancelled because their widows couldn't yet face cutting that particular chord.