The Will to Help...
Maritime Organization Claims Smaller Charities are Suffering from Fall in Legacy Giving Ahead of Make a Will Month.
Surrey based Maritime charity the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which provides vital residential, nursing and specialist dementia care to former seafarers, has highlighted the importance of legacy giving ahead of National Make a Will month in November. Legacies are a key income source for UK charities, raising around £2 billion each year. However, trends suggest that the flow of legacies are at risk as budgetary cuts are felt across the country.
Only 40 percent of the UK have written a will so Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, chief executive of the Society is urging UK citizens to remember their favourite charities and make a will in November as part of National Make a Will month.
He said: “With large reductions in care sector funding, donations from individuals will become even more important to enable charities to continue carrying out the essential work they do on behalf of people and causes across the UK.”
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society itself has seen the number of legacies it receives, as a proportion of its total voluntary income, fall dramatically year-on-year over the past five years, from 82.8 per cent in 2006 to 1.1 per cent in 2010.
While legacies by their very nature are more difficult to analyse than other types of voluntary donations, the Society is concerned that the decrease may suggest a downward trend in overall legacy giving. This may be as a result of the challenging financial climate and people changing their giving habits, for example, in favour of leaving more money to relatives and dependants than they may have done previously.
According to Remember a Charity, a consortium of charities focused on promoting legacies, not enough people are aware that making this type of gift is an option for them. Thirty-five per cent of people say they'd happily leave a gift in their will once family and friends had been provided for, but only seven per cent actually do so. This could be due to a misconception that legacies are only for the wealthy or can only be given in large amounts.
The Government introduced a new incentive scheme in the Budget, encouraging individuals to leave 10 percent of their money through their wills to charity in exchange for an equal reduction in inheritance tax.
It is not only single charities that benefit from legacy giving. Grant-giving organisations such as Seafarers UK, which supports the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society and numerous other maritime charities, also rely on this type of donation. In 2010, one quarter of the grants Seafarers UK awarded came from legacies.
Commander Boxall-Hunt commented: “The figures prove just how crucial legacies are, and highlight the work that could not be done without them. Leaving a legacy is a very important and personal decision, so we appreciate every gift we receive, small or large. After ensuring that family and friends are taken care of, leaving a legacy can make a huge difference where it is most needed, enabling you to leave a true ‘legacy’ – continuing to support people and worthwhile causes long after you’re gone.”
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which recently added an annexe to its nursing care home to care for those former seafarers living with dementia, is a registered charity and was established in 1865. It is incorporated under Royal Charter, with HRH the Princess Royal as its patron. The Society’s primary aim is to provide accommodation, care and support to former seafarers, who may need special help and like-minded companionship in their old age due to the isolated nature of their careers. Under the Royal Charter, ‘seafarers’ include Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, fishermen and port workers, as well as their widows or dependants. The Society also welcomes residents of non-seafaring backgrounds when able to do so.