Chief Executive, Philanthropy New Zealand | Tōpūtanga Tuku Aroha o Aotearoa
29 August 2022
In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes, Benjamin Franklin famously said.
It’s a bleak statement, but it popped to mind as the annual Community Foundations of New Zealand Wills Month is upon us.
Once we’ve accepted the certainty of death it feels easier to move on to the more positive focus of what legacy we will leave.
Our legacy may be being loving parents and raising our children as best we’re able; the achievements in our careers; how many smiles we brought to the faces of those around us; or the helping, volunteering and donating we did to make a difference to communities.
If you’re in a solid financial position, Wills Month is a good time to consider whether part of your legacy could be leaving a bequest for a charity/ies or cause area close to your heart.
It doesn’t need to be a lot as more people giving smaller amounts really adds up to make a huge difference. However, bigger gifts can be game changing for charities in terms of their strategy, approach, delivery and therefore, impact. The theme for this year’s Wills Month is Big Dreams Can Happen.
Carving off a chunk of money for a bequest will often not be materially felt by other beneficiaries of your will – but the impact will be tangibly appreciated by the charities and those it helps.
Investing in communities, whether it’s into social services, climate action, animal welfare or other cause areas, will directly progress a better Aotearoa New Zealand for future generations of your family and friends.
Research released this year by the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, supported by Perpetual Guardian, shows that about five percent of New Zealanders have provided for a gift to charity in their will (The Australians are beating us – 11 percent have specified gifts to charities).
A further 21 percent of New Zealanders are likely to or will consider leaving money for charity. 38 percent of the public are currently understood to have not yet made a will. Younger people are more generous (more than 55 percent of those aged under 45 years will consider leaving a gift) but far fewer of them have made wills!
About 1500 people die each year without having left a will. These are people who may have wished something different happen with their estates than what eventuated, and – given the known generosity of New Zealanders - it’s likely that charities missed out as a result.
Wills Months is a good time to encourage the 21 percent considering leaving a gift to charity to act on their intention; and for the 38 percent to get their affairs organised – including thinking about leaving a bequest.
You’ll not only get peace of mind from sorting out your will, but there’s stacks of research that shows people who donate or volunteer feel happier. So just the thought that you’ve got a bequest lined up should give you good vibes.
You can then move on from the certainty of death and taxes to the less certain business of living - with all the spontaneous opportunities and legacy-creating moments every day brings.
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