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Charity legacy considerations

Don’t leave money to charities without doing a lot of research and thinking about what you want your money to achieve.

Including a gift in your will is a great way of supporting a charity. If you are close to a particular cause, that is likely to be the charity to which you will want to leave money.

If you aren’t particularly close to any one charity, but you would like to leave a legacy to one or more good causes, there are a number of organisations that can help you decide. Please see our advice page which deals with this subject.

Consider the less well-known charities that do excellent work helping the disadvantaged. Not all charities have nationally recognised names, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing excellent work.

Think about making a residuary legacy, rather than a set amount. This is a share of what’s left, after you’ve provided for family and friends. This type of gift will also hold its value over time because it won’t be affected by inflation – which means your gift to charity will be more generous.

All charities, large or small, will be thankful for your legacy. If you have any questions about the wording you should use in your Will, most charities will help you over the phone, by mail or by email. Many will also have information on their website to make legacy giving as easy as possible for their supporters.

Giving more than money

Charities large and small find people’s time, expertise and enthusiasm as valuable as money...indeed often of greater value.

Many charities depend on commited, energetic and often experienced volunteers to deliver services and provide administrative functions.

So if you are serious about helping charities, think about contributing your time and skills while you are alive.

  • Decide what type of charity you want to help;
  • Decide which geographical area you want to benefit - not necessarily where you live now, but maybe a more disadvantaged area close by, or where you were brought up, or where you worked;
  • Get the advice of the relevant local authority officer responsible for links with the voluntary sector and discuss which would be most appropriate local charity for you to approach;
  • Discuss with a member of your selected charity’s management committee the best way in which you can help.

Charitable tourism

Many African and Asian countries have nascent tourist industries. Consider taking a holiday in one of these countries, making sure your valuable money goes to local businesses and communities, rather than foreign owned hotels and resorts.

Visit settlements away from the tourist areas. Speak to local teachers and doctors.

Begin to build links between their communities and yours.

Books, medical equipment, expertise from us to them can be a more effective way of helping than donating money to charities working in the developing countries.

Funeral donations

You can increase the money you give to charities by instructing people to donate to your chosen charity or good cause instead of buying funeral flowers.

You can also organise a memorial, or celebratory, party and instruct your family or executor to use it as a fund raising event by having a ticket price and auctions. The money raised can then go to your chosen charity.

Add this to your funeral wishes and put in your Lifebox so that your executor knows how you want your death to benefit those at need.

Give efficiently

While you are alive, make your charity donations as effecient as possible.

Gift Aid increases the value of donations to charities by allowing them to reclaim basic rate tax on your gift.

If you pay higher rate tax you can claim extra relief on your donations. If you claim age-related allowances or tax credits, Gift Aid donations can increase your entitlement.

And research the Freemasons' Grand Charity scheme where they will match the funding raised for charities by Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodges.

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Teri Sharpe wrote on 29 Apr 10 at 2:57pm
Teri Sharpe

I want to benefit a charity that has touched our family directly and made a positive difference for lots of children.

Catherine Clark wrote on 22 Mar 10 at 4:37pm
Catherine Clark

While I agree that donors should do research on charities to which they may leave a legacy, I am shocked at the way you characterise larger charities. Yes, they might spend more on administration and fund raising, but responsible ones normally spend less as a percentage of their programme costs than the smaller ones. I am a legacy donor and have been a development director for both large and small charities. I would be glad to see 15-25% spent on each £ raised, and 50-70% of total annual expenditure on programmes and projects. Conversely, I would be highly suspicious of any charity claiming to spend less than 10% on fund raising, or 20% on administration.

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