No one really likes thinking about what will happen to our possessions when we die. But deciding to leave a gift in your will can be an uplifting experience when you think about the positive impact it can make to your favourite charities and their work.
Charities themselves often find gifts in wills a difficult subject to approach with their supporters, but it is important that they let people know just how important these gifts are, and remind us that we can leave our own stamp on the world and help future generations after we are gone.
Official providers of legacy information, Smee & Ford and Remember A Charity, recently announced the number of charities named in a Will in England, Scotland and Wales increased by 10% from 2014 to 2015, escalating from 9,019 to 9,910 organisations. Here are some first-hand stories of how gifts in wills are being used by charities, and the positive and life-changing impact they can make.
"Gifts in wills have helped Mercy Ships carry out the immensely important work we do, helping to change the lives of some of the world’s most impoverished people. We have treated more than 648,000 people in village medical and dental clinics, performed more than 61,000 surgeries and completed more than 1,100 community development projects. In recent years, Mercy Ships has seen a rise in legacy income which is something that has greatly benefitted patients treated on board its hospital ship. One of our major legacies came from a lady whose neighbour’s family were serving on the Africa Mercy and her note read that she wanted to support Mercy Ships because she had heard first hand of all the difference we were making to those in need in Africa."
Judy Polkinhorn, Mercy Ships
Find out more on the Mercy Ships page on Charity Choice
"Nearly half of the funds we receive from our supporters come from gifts in wills, and we really do rely on these donations to continue providing support and vital services for older people. With more than ten million people in the UK aged 65 there has never been a more important time for people to consider leaving a gift in their will. A legacy could provide advice to someone struggling to access pension benefits, bring sight to someone blinded by cataracts in India or fund the latest research into Alzheimer’s disease."
Michelle Carillo, Age UK
Find out more on the Age UK page on Charity Choice
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
"Gifts in wills make up 40% of our income – without them, we would cease to exist. One of the services run with funds provided from legacies is a Befriending Service to people isolated by their conditions - for many with these conditions who are house-bound, our befriender might be one of the very few people they see in a week."
Penelope Blackwell, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
Martin House Children’s Hospice
"Each year we care for around 340 children. One in four of the children we care for is covered by gifts left in wills. Legacies are vitally important to Martin House - we rely on them for the basic funding of the hospice and to fund running costs. Martin House opened its doors to children and their families in 1987, becoming only the second children’s hospice in the UK. We aim to provide family-led care for children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses."
Carol Devine, Martin House
Find out more on the Martin House page on Charity Choice
International Animal Rescue
“International Animal Rescue owes its very existence to a legacy: a gift left to our founder John Hicks enabled him to set up the charity in 1988. Since then we have saved literally thousands of animals around the world from cruelty and neglect. We cut free and care for dancing bears in India, rescue primates from animal traffickers in Indonesia and treat stray dogs and cats in developing countries. Wherever we can, we return rehabilitated animals to the wild but, if that's not possible, we give them a safe haven for life.”
Gavin Bruce, International Animal Rescue
Find out more on the International Animal Rescue page on Charity Choice
Want to find out more about leaving a gift to charity in your will? Learn more on our Legacies page.