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It is not too late to give

by
25 October 2013

Gifts through wills and legacies have a huge impact, Rachel Giles discovers

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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 page 28).

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 them.

"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 diocese.

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 £71,709 total.

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 grants.

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 clergy."

 

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 her.

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 nowadays.

"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 grandchildren."

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 my children."

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 about it.

"To me, it's very sensible, because it frees you to be able to live."

www.christianaid.org.uk/give/legacies/index.aspx

www.churchtimes.co.uk/about-us/train-a-priest-fund

www.willaid.org.uk

www.childrenssociety.org.uk www.capuk.org

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