Deirdre Murphy, Will to Give’s Support Officer had the pleasure of chatting with Dawn Callender LL.B, Principal Solicitor at Skelton Callender Solicitors in Lisburn.
“Dawn described the warm reaction she receives from clients when asked if they would like to leave any charitable gifts in their Will. She also shares her observations of the increasingly popularity of this way of giving, especially in the last twelve months.”
Q. Do you ask clients to leave a charitable gift in their Will? If so, what do you say?
Yes, we do, Skelton Callender Solicitors have a pro forma form which includes the question – do you want to leave any charitable gifts?
We find that clients will often come with charities in mind especially if their family has been touched by a charity or they feel they don’t have anyone to leave their savings and/or assets to.
We also advise them that it is often a good idea to make contact with the charity or charities to let them know they are leaving a gift in their Will.
Q. How do clients usually respond?
They are usually fine about it; I have never had any negative feedback or reaction to asking the question.
Usually if a client has children they leave their property to them. If this is the case, we will have the conversation with clients that a gift small or large is invaluable. For example £100 can make a big difference to the work of a local charity in Northern Ireland.
Q. What percentage of your clients, would you say leave a charitable gift in their Will, when asked?
Gifts in Wills are becoming increasingly popular especially over the last twelve months. 30 -35% of our clients are leaving a gift in their Will to charity. People just didn’t realise it was an option before.
I think the increased awareness boils down to Will to Give’s awareness work, messaging on social media particularly Facebook and other promotional activity such as ‘Make a Will’ months.
I will give you an example, two clients came to me recently and hadn’t appreciated the importance of making a Will, nor the opportunity to leave a charitable gift in their Will. They were made aware of both through Facebook!
Q. What can charities do to promote gifts in Wills?
For me, it’s all about exposure and charities quantifying what the money will do, focusing on the lasting positive impact. People want to know how they can potentially make a difference.
We always advise the client to include the following wording in the Will ‘charitable gift to be used at the charity’s discretion’.
Q. It strikes me you are very passionate about the role you play in increasing legacies. Why is this so?
My family have always supported charities and been philanthropic minded, particularly since my dad suffered with Parkinson’s Disease for many years, before passing away nine years ago. As a family, we support the work of Parkinson’s UK where we can.
The impact gifts in Wills to charity is massively important. I enjoy having conversations with clients who have not thought of leaving a gift and consider it a little victory when they decide to.
Q. What advice would you give to other Professional Advisors?
“I would simply say, just ask, we are already discussing sensitive issues with clients. A gentle nudge can go a long way to helping sustain the life-saving work of local charities. I have never had any negative feedback or reaction to asking.”
“Thank you Dawn for your time and insight into the art of Will making and having conversations with clients on leaving a charitable gift. From all of us at Will to Give, please keep up the great work!”
Asking clients to leave a gift in their Will can have a huge impact
Research undertaken by membership charity, Remember a Charity shows that when solicitors told clients that leaving a gift to charity was an option, the percentage that did so increased from 5% to 10%. When clients were asked if there were any charities they were passionate about, gifts included in Wills rose again to 15%. So, in real terms, this means that a ‘nudge’ from solicitors and will writers could in fact mean a significant boost in income for charities.
A second piece of research undertaken by social purpose company The Behavioural Insights Team and the University of Bristol, commissioned by Remember a Charity found:
Discussing charitable legacies in the context of Will-making and in face-to-face meetings is seen as highly appropriate. In an online survey, 46% of respondents said that solicitors have a duty to ask clients about legacy giving, while most respondents were supportive of solicitors asking about charitable giving in Wills.
People writing their Wills for the first time, who heard that others had given, went on to donate roughly 40% more than those who did not receive this information.
Following this research the Law Society Gazette reported Solicitors are ‘crucial’ to charitable bequests.