Australians Urged to Give a Gift to Charities in Their Will
8 September 2017 at 4:32 pm
A coalition of almost 100 charities will be teaming up next week, to encourage more Australians to leave a gift in their will.
Include a Charity week (from the 11 to 17 September), is an initiative to raise awareness about the positive impact people can make by leaving a gift to charity.
Currently, only 7.5 per cent of wills leave a bequest to charity, and Include a Charity would like this increased to 12 per cent by 2020, which would create a $440 million boost to charities.
Some of the charities supporting the campaign include:
- Australian Red Cross;
- Cancer Council Australia;
- the Taronga Foundation;
- the Royal Flying Doctors Service;
- The Smith Family;
- Heart Research Australia;
- Bush Heritage Australia;
- the Leukaemia Foundation; and
- Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
Jakki Travers, an Include a Charity committee member said: “Including a gift in one’s will is an opportunity for people to leave a life-changing legacy. In addition to volunteering or donating in one’s lifetime, it’s another way people can support the causes they are passionate about, and make an impact for years to come.”
Include a Charity said since its campaign first began in 2011, discussing charities when drawing up a will was becoming more accepted, while solicitors were also becoming more proactive with raising the subject with clients.
Helen Merrick, the Include a Charity campaign director, said this was a positive development for charities.
“We are delighted there is a trend towards a consideration of charity bequests,” Merrick said.
“However, we want to get the word out to the many Australians who don’t know this is an option.”
Kelly Morgan is a succession lawyer from Barker Henley, who does a lot of work with charities helping them with gifts in wills.
She told Pro Bono News that leaving a bequest to charity was not “a difficult process at all”, and that you did not need to be wealthy to make a difference.
“It is very similar to leaving a gift to a loved one in your will. It just depends on what it is you would like to give,” Morgan said.
“People will leave gifts to charities for a variety of reasons, and they’re not necessarily large gifts. Those who perhaps don’t have large estates might leave a small gift. It really depends on the individual and what their circumstances are.”
While Morgan admitted there was sometimes a need to address with clients how to explain this decision to relatives, she said charitable gifts were usually well understood by family members.
“Generally, if a client wishes to leave a gift to a charity, they’ve put a significant amount of thought into it. If they have a good relationship with family members, the family members generally know about the person’s desire to leave a gift to charity,” she said.
“Some gifts may be in memory of a loved one, or in gratitude perhaps for some assistance they’ve received themselves throughout their life. They may wish just to ensure that others not as fortunate as themselves have the services of the charity available to them.
“But unless there is a significant discord in the family, they will generally understand about the gift.”
Morgan added that greater understanding about the impact of a charitable gift would likely improve giving rates, since many underestimated the difference even a small gift could make.
“Clients I speak to, if they don’t consider leaving a gift, it’s because they don’t believe their contribution can assist. But if they look to the work of the charity they wish to benefit, and have a discussion with them, they will realise even small gifts can have a huge impact,” she said.
“There’s a couple of hurdles there: Solicitors generally don’t have a great habit of asking their clients if they’d like to leave a gift to charity [while] clients may not consider leaving a gift until the subject is actually raised. And when they do take a moment to consider it, they often are quite inclined to leave even a small gift to charity.”
“I recommend if people are having their will prepared, that they speak to their solicitor about leaving a gift to charity.”