This week, 7-13 September 2020, is Include a Charity Week in Australia, part of a bigger International Legacy Week where major charities from 15+ countries promote the importance of Gifts in a Will to fund their work. It coincides with International Day of Charity.
It’s no secret that charities rely heavily on generous public donations to support the vulnerable in our communities, people who would otherwise fall through the cracks; there are more than 23,000 Australian charities actively fundraising in 2020.
Legacy giving, or Gifts in a Will, play a really important role for the future of charities, many of whom are currently doing it tough with a drop in general donations through the effects of COVID-19 on public income and demand for services through a run on droughts, fires, floods and now COVID-19 related issues.
The advantage of giving through a Will is that it is painless. The bequestor simply nominates a specific amount, or a percentage from their estate so that loved ones are properly taken care of too. Gifts can be small – they all add up and contrary to popular belief, this type of giving is NOT reserved for the rich and famous. In fact, gifts from an estate are a great way for people who aren’t wealthy to support a charity in a way that they may not have been able to afford in their lifetime.
Do good for life
Include a Charity Week challenges us to think about the impact that we want our life to have. After all, we all want to leave the world a better place, don’t we? A Gift in a Will is one way to leave a legacy of positive lasting change whilst ensuring that our estate goes to the people and causes we care most about.
As a perfect example of how giving powers up to make a lasting legacy, we only have to look at Feros Care, the legacy of one poor and humble George Feros. The original Legacy Legend, George Feros dedicated the last twenty years of his life to raising funds to build a nursing home in Byron Bay. He couldn’t have known that 30 years later, 350,000 people would have received care and compassion in his name.
But only 8 people in every 100 leave a gift in their will. Why?
The most popular answers are “because I didn’t think about it”, “I didn’t know I could” or “no one asked me”.
A Tweed father said he only decided to leave a bequest after his solicitor discussed it with him. “I’ve donated money to charities throughout my life, but it never really crossed my mind that I could keep showing my support after I pass away,” he said. “I think we just need to get better at having the conversation about Gifts in Wills because I’m sure plenty more people would support it if it was something we discussed and they knew more about.”
The 52-year-old father of two isn’t alone. More than three times as many Australians say they would be willing to leave a gift to charity if the option was more openly discussed. As S+P Stuart Garrett Lawyers Director, Stuart Garrett explains, it's a conversation open to everyone, but the reason for doing so varies. “People nominate an aged care provider as a gift recipient in their will because they want to acknowledge the care and commitment that has been given to their family members. By making the bequest they facilitate the ongoing work for the remaining residents.”
Feeling good – getting high
A recent survey showed that 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to say they will leave a gift in their Will.
Perhaps they have worked out that as well as changing the lives of others, donating also make us feel good. Have you ever felt the warm glow of giving? It turns out that this euphoric high is a proven scientific fact – a wonderful side effect for the givers which they have called the “helper’s high” – nature's built-in reward system for those who help others. When we feel good about supporting others, we feel more connected to our community too. As Winston Churchill once famously said – "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
The weird and the wonderful
When comedian Jack Benny died in 1974, his will stipulated that a single red rose be delivered to his wife every day, to demonstrate ‘his undying love.’ A florist duly delivered a red rose every day until his wife Mary died in 1983.
Not all bequests are quite so humble or altruistic. When magician Harry Houdini died in 1926, he only left his wife 10 words. His Will stated that she should hold a séance every Halloween following his death and that he would communicate with her through those 10 words. His wife gave up the seances after 10 years when even Houdini’s magic failed to help him show up.
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s six cats (and his common-law wife Mary Austin) inherited half of his £75 million estate (you can’t leave money to pets in Australia!).
Thanks to the team at Include a Charity for this collection.
Gifts in a Will at Feros Care
This week Feros Care introduces its Gifts in a Will program, where (unless specified by you otherwise), every dollar received supports those experiencing devastating loneliness in Australia, through Be Someone For Someone, Feros Care's charitable initiative to tackle loneliness.
If you would like to know more about leaving a donation in your will, we would love to chat with you. You can contact Jo Winwood, Head of Be Someone For Someone, on 0475 970 763, or by email at [email protected]