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Don’t let your good cause die with you

OVER one hundred charities are encouraging Australians to leave gifts in their wills to ensure their ideals live on.

Include a Charity Week, which runs from 6-12 September, aims to get people thinking about how the material legacy they’d like to leave behind when they’re gone could make all the difference to their favourite non-profit.

CEO of Fundraising Institute Australia Katherine Raskob said a key part of the Week is an online ‘What Kind of Legend Are You?’ quiz.

Anyone can take the quiz to understand how their life stories and values relate to some of Australia’s best-loved charities including Royal Flying Doctor Service and RSPCA, and how a gift from their estate can leave a lasting mark on the world.

“The charities behind the campaign really run the gamut of causes – health and medical, children, refugees, the environment – so it’s quite easy for someone to take the quiz and find, ‘Yes, this is something I’d like to get behind,’” Ms Raskob said.

Include a Charity Week’s tenth anniversary could hardly come at a better time for our non-profits, in the context of the ongoing lockdowns.

“Because of the pandemic, there has been an incredible increase in demand for [charity] services, but at the same time, income has fallen,” Ms Raskob said.

She cited numbers from the latest JBWere NAB Charitable Giving Index, which found donations were down 16 per cent in 2020, bringing them back to 2016 levels, a problem given that a fifth of charity income comes through gifts in wills.

Another obstacle to charity fundraising through bequests is that only half of Australians have written their will, with most of those preferring to leave their money solely to family.

Ms Raskob urged people to reconsider those choices.

“Even if it’s only one per cent of your estate, charitable giving has an incredible, lasting and tangible impact on a charity, and those gifts, when they come, are really transformative,” she said.

“It’s not that Australians aren’t generous.

“We respond really well to needs like bushfires, for example.

“But in everyday consciousness, we don’t think about the mark we want to leave and about what we can do to transform a charity, and that’s what Include a Charity Week is all about.”

Seventy-five-year-old author and naturalist David Waterhouse has been giving to the WWF for almost sixty years, and he doesn’t plan on his generosity ending when he passes away.

Mr Waterhouse intends to give from his estate to a range of charities including the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Birdlife International, but he said WWF holds a special place in his heart.

As a young person growing up in the UK he collected cards in tea and bubble gum packets featuring exotic flora and fauna.

“WWF was just about the first organisation to try to protect wildlife I heard about as a child,” said Mr Waterhouse.

“It [WWF] is like an old friend, an old school friend, even though you pick up new friends along the way’”

Mr Waterhouse recalled even in his lifetime whole forests in different parts of the world have been cleared and said that human impact is a big factor behind his decision to make a bequest.

“You’re never done [with conservation], you’re always at the barricades,” he said.

“I realise it won’t be solved in my lifetime: population explosions [and] habitat clearing mean there will be more and more species on the endangered list.

“Snow leopards, koalas, bilbies… to me these things are just as precious and should be looked after just like fine art, statues and architecture.”

Mr Waterhouse understands those people who would prefer to leave their estate to their family, but he encouraged them to consider the range of good causes around.

“If you’ve got a property and your grown children are doing alright and have good jobs, or you’re on your own and are childless, things like the WWF are well worth considering,” he said.

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Cameron Doody

Cameron holds a doctorate in Studies of the Ancient World from the Autonomous and Complutense Universities of Madrid. He has 4.5 years' experience as a reporter in Spain and 3.5 years' experience as a lecturer in Ethics. Writing from Gawler in South Australia, in Kaurna country, he is passionate about advocating for a more humane economy, digital and workers' rights, freedom of expression, sustainability and multiculturalism. In his spare time he enjoys unwinding with friends and family, playing the piano and helping to make the world a better place.

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