A STEEP rise in house prices in the UK has had a serious effect
on many different parts of the country's economy, and none more so
than charitable giving. Put crudely, when people are alive, they
have less money to give away, since so much of their income is
swallowed up paying for their housing. After they have died,
however, the value of the house means that they end up - belatedly
- rather well off.
As a result, charities - many of whom have seen income drop away
during the present financial crisis - have been encouraging
would-be supporters to use their wills as a way of being generous
after they die. Thanks to various government incentives, legacy
giving can even increase the money left over for the family (see
One example of a charity that has benefited from legacies is
Christian Aid. Currently, about ten per cent of its income is
received this way. A senior regional legacy officer for the
charity, Alison Knight, says that the reach of legacy giving is
substantial: "It's enough to cover all the work we do in Latin
America and the Caribbean. That money helps people in 11 countries,
150 partners, and thousands of people."
For Mrs Knight, the impact of legacy giving came home to her
while she was on a field visit to Honduras. She was working with
families, and explaining to them that the aid they were receiving
was partly a result of legacy giving. It was a lightbulb moment for
"I explained to them that people leave gifts in their wills.
They were amazed, and said: 'We had no hope for the future - we
were just trying to survive day to day. Now our children are able
to have more schooling, and access to medical care. We can provide
something to leave for our children, and they can now leave
something for their children, too.'"
November is a good time to make a basic will. During the month,
solicitors participating in Will Aid waive their fee for writing or
updating a basic will, in return for a donation to one of nine UK
charities - including Christian Aid and Save the Children. The
suggested donation is £90 for a single basic will, and £135 for a
pair of basic matching or mirror wills. This pattern is
increasingly being copied by cathedrals and parish churches, many
of whom have solicitors in their congregations who are prepared to
donate time in a good cause.
CLOSER to home, legacy giving has had a big impact on the
Church Times's Train-a-Priest (TAP) appeal over its
lifetime. The TAP Fund supports ordinands with grants throughout
their ministry training, whether they are part-time or full-time,
single or married, supplementing any income they receive from their
Set up by the then editor of the Church Times, Rosamund
Essex, in 1952, the TAP appeal runs annually from the start of Lent
through Eastertide to the eve of Pentecost, when a grand total is
announced. If donations and legacies come in outside this period,
these are normally counted towards the next opening total.
Women have been notably generous legacy-givers over the past
decade or so. In 2002, the fund's 50th anniversary, three large
legacy gifts contributed to the record total of £191,837: Ivy
Florence Venn, of Cerne Abbas, Dorset, gave £42,635; £25,000 came
from the executors of Nina Edith Burns; and £28,369 from the estate
of Constance Evelyn Murray.
More recently, in 2008, TAP benefited to the tune of more than
£80,000 from the generosity of the late Betty Spurling. It meant
that the total that year reached £182,436 - nearly as much as the
TAP Golden Jubilee Appeal total. This year was a quiet one for TAP,
but a generous £10,000 legacy was a significant proportion of the
When writing the will, it is im- portant to give the fund its
full name, since TAP is not a charity in its own right. The fund is
held by Hymns Ancient & Modern (a registered charity), and then
made over to the Archbishops' Council, who administer the
Donors can request that their money should go into a Special
Hardship Fund rather than the main fund. About 30 to 40 hardship
grants are made annually towards unforeseen emergencies. Both
residential (theological college) and non-residential (course)
students are eligible to apply.
"One of the things that people like about the TAP Fund", the
grants officer of the Ministry Division at Church House, Dr Mark
Hodge, says, "is that it's very direct support for ordinands who
need it - it's one way of expressing loyalty to the Church, and
wanting to help promote the future of the Church and its
THE Children's Society tells the story of "Sarah" as an example
of the sort of work supported by legacies. Sarah was eight years
old when her stepfather began abusing her sexually. She tried to
tell her mother what was going on, but her mother did not believe
Sarah ran away from home. She was placed in a children's home,
but became the victim of bullying. She ran away again, and this
time ended up on the streets. She got into drugs, and started
soliciting for sex to pay for them. She was 14.
The turn-around came when she was put in touch with the
Children's Society. It found her somewhere to live, and helped her
to start putting her life back together.
"I was so relieved to speak to someone who believed what had
happened to me," Sarah says. "I can't tell you what a difference
they made. From that point on, my life got better. For the first
time in my life I have something to look forward to."
Last year, the Children's Society received £8 million from
legacies, representing more than a third of its voluntary income.
Thanks in part to these legacies, the charity now works with almost
30,000 children across the UK every year.
CAROLE HARVEY, a supporter of Christians Against Poverty (CAP),
was not surprised to learn that just six per cent of wills in the
UK included a bequest to a charitable organisation.
"I think that a lot of people, quite rightly are very involved
with their own families," she says. "You want to do everything you
can to help them in the future, particularly as things are tight
"But I don't think that people consider that giving a small
slice to charity actually makes very little difference to being
able to do all that you want to do for your children and
Some years ago, she decided to give her "slice" to CAP, to whom
she donates a little each month, and which she decribes as her
"favourite", because of a personal connection.
"Over the years I have been giving to CAP, I have directed
members of my family to it," she says. "If I had not known about
CAP, they would not have known where to go to get free advice. . .
I thought, this is part of evangelism, and really showing people
that you not only want them to come to faith, but that you care
about them in a practical way as well.
"I feel very strongly that that is what we should be doing. We
are in a recession, and things are getting worse for people."
Her children were supportive of her decision to include a legacy
for CAP in her will, she says.
"I can't give a lot more on a monthly basis, but it occured to
me that, because I have got property, when I die, a small portion
of that could go to CAP without it being detrimental in any way to
Having already made a will, amending it to include the legacy
was simple, she says. Her message to others is that making a will
can bring freedom.
"We are very bad in this country at not making wills generally,"
she says. "People can't even countenance it because they do not
want to think of dying. There is a lot of burying your head in the
sand. The British don't like to talk about death much or think
"To me, it's very sensible, because it frees you to be able to