A commonly held misconception about leaving a legacy gift to charity is that it’s only worthwhile if you have substantial funds to give. Many don't even consider it because they feel their gift won't be big enough to make a difference.
In fact, a gift of any size can have a transformative impact – especially for smaller community organizations. Toronto Foundation bequest donors Beverley Burke, Emma Lewzey and Lars Boggild discuss the powerful impact they've seen firsthand with gifts of all sizes – and how Toronto Foundation can help people at all stages of life to include a bequest agreement in their long-term planning.
Why should people at different stages in life consider leaving a gift to charity in their will?
Beverley: You really don't need a big pile of money to start, which I think can appeal a lot to younger people. I'm always impressed when I see Toronto Foundation welcoming people at all ages and stages of life into the world of philanthropy.
Working with Toronto Foundation, there are a lot of different ways to approach gifting such as life insurance policies, RRSPs and more. It's not just about: “Oh I have to leave X amount of money that could have gone to my children.”
Lars: There is this presumption that leaving a gift in your will is only for older, wealthier people. A gift is a gift--no matter the size. Charities appreciate gifts of all amounts and know that it's generosity from the whole community that enables their work.
We are successful young professionals, but we're not in the top 1%. So I think we're representative of a new direction in giving where organizations can reliably know that they're going to get thousands of $1,000 gifts, as opposed to a couple of $100,000 gifts a year from their mega donors.
Emma: Anyone can include a gift in their will. I used to joke that if I die now you'll get two IKEA bookshelves and an elderly dog. Sometimes we get the idea that it's not worth it if we're not leaving a seven-figure sum, but I've seen firsthand at small organizations the impact that any size of gift can have.
Calculate your legacy
With just a little bit of information and a few clicks, the legacy calculator by Will Power will help you figure out how much of a gift you can leave in your will while still taking care of your loved ones. Toronto Foundation works with legacy gifts of all sizes and can help you maximize the impact of your gift on the causes that matter to you most.
What kind of impact can smaller gifts have?
Beverley: Recently, someone I knew passed away. I knew that they were big supporters of an organization called Sistema, so I donated $100 to them in their honour.
I couldn’t believe it when I then got a letter from Sistema thanking me for my donation and telling me all the amazing things they’re able to do because of help from people like me. All because I gave them $100. It all matters.
Emma: I’ve been a fundraising professional working with community-based organizations for over 20 years and I’ve often seen what someone might consider a small gift end up being the most significant gift that organization has ever received. So I hope that more people will consider it and realize that they can have a huge impact, no matter the size of the bequest.
How is Toronto Foundation helpful?
Emma: Toronto Foundation helped us clarify how we want to direct our giving. We've been specific that we want to support organizations serving LGBTQ2S+ communities, but beyond that we've kept it quite broad. We’ve centralized our giving through Toronto Foundation, but continue support a lot of charities that we care about.