Involving Families In Bequest Programs
11 October 2004 at 1:10 pm
Not for Profits seeking bequests should be giving the bequestor and their families more involvement in how the bequest is spent and this should be promoted in their advertising according to Alkira, a Victorian based organisation.
Alkira (pronounced Al- k-eye-rah) is a community-based service organisation for people with intellectual disabilities and this year it is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Alkira’s bequest message, in a nutshell, is:
Your gift to Alkira (or any Not for Profit ) can enrich your family’s life. Make your family part of your important decision about your bequest. Talk to them about getting to know us together today; then simply record your wishes in your will. One day, your family will help decide how your gift to is actually used – making it more meaningful to everyone.
Alkira’s Manager of Community Relations, Meaghan Adams says the family of the bequestor be it the spouse, children, other relatives, next of kin – even the executor of the will can be involved in discussions with the a Not for Profit to decide how the money can be usefully spent.
Adams says that obviously it is very unwise for the will to stipulate an exact use of the gift, given the time between writing and receipt and the fact that NFP’s and their work change.
But she says the will should say that consultation should occur with named members of the family or family identified by the executor.
She says the advantage of involving family members in the organisation is that they establish a relationship with the spouse or the next generation. This may mean the family even increases the size of the gift to meet a particular need or become donors over time.
Adams says the bequest can be more positively acknowledged (the family of the bequestor can be in any newsletter articles or media) and a more meaningful plaque or acknowledgment can be designed to recognise the giver. These activities promote giving in the community sector.
She says another advantage is that it could bring the family to the organisation earlier – at the time of writing the will – and the relationship building and potentially the donations can start then.
Adams agrees there is a possible disadvantage in that it may decreases those untied funds that get an agency out of a tight spot or goes to a cause that is not attractive to a donor (like administration).
Her view is “so be it”! The cause is still better off as a whole and agencies should always work to educate people to support needs that are less attractive especially to donors with whom they have personal relationships .
She says a suggestion to compensate for the loss of the untied funds is that the agency requests a percentage of the bequest for administration or other non-attractive needs as a matter of course in all major gifts and bequests.
She says overall, it does make the bequest process a more satisfying one. The real clincher is for the families.
1. Parents can feel they are not taking from their children when they leave the bequest as they are giving their children an opportunity to be involved in something very meaningful and satisfying, to belong to the Not for Profit community.
2. That the bequest must surely help with the grieving process as well. In families where the bequest will be realised due to a long illness (such as cancer) it may also make the process of coping with the illness a little easier and help families to have that all important discussion about wills.
Alkira was started in 1954 by a group of parents with intellectually disabled children. Calling their group “A Helping Hand” they set up an independent kindergarten for their children which they built literally from the ground up.
Within five years it changed its name to Alkira, an Aboriginal word meaning a happy place in the sun! Today it supports adults with intellectual disabilities through day services and recreational activities as well as residential and respite accommodation.
As the original families and friends grow older Alkira is looking to increase its bequest program to supplement government funding support. Meaghan Adams is a fundraising expert who has been brought on board to assist during its 50th Anniversary.