5 tips: Writing a will for community impact

When it comes time to write a will, the main goal for many is making sure their loved ones are taken care of. But for those who have chosen to leave a legacy gift to charity in their wills, their potential impact reaches much further. 

In conversation with Legacy Leaders and Toronto Foundation legacy experts, we have compiled a list of the top five tips to help you write a will for community impact. 


1. Identify the barriers: If you’ve been putting off creating your will, it’s important to uncover and address what might be holding you back. The most common misconceptions that prevent people from starting the process is that they worry it will be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Partnering with Toronto Foundation to co-create your philanthropic legacy gives you access to the tools, expertise and flexibility to remove some of these obstacles.  

According to Paul Butler: “Having been involved in some estates that weren't well planned or documented, it's much more costly and complicated than when you've got something that clearly outlines your wishes. Toronto Foundation gives us the best of both worlds: We have articulated wishes in our bequest, but we can come back and make changes as we go without it being a costly or difficult process.”

2. Discover your why: When thinking about what you want your philanthropic legacy to be, the first question to ask yourself is what matters to you most today. As Samantha Luc says: “having a will is like a brief letter to the rest of the world about what was important to you at that time. It's a continuation of the wishes you had when you were alive that helps to define your legacy when you are gone.”  

3. Fast-forward: Once you’ve figured out what your core values are, think about how your philanthropic legacy can help materialize those values in the future. It can be helpful to ask yourself what you hope the future of Toronto would look like with your legacy in place. Emma Lewzey envisions a city that includes: “equity and an equitable future for the people in LGBTQ2S+ communities.” Articulating this gave Emma and her partner Ingrid Randoja a clearer picture of what kind of organizations they wanted to support in their wills to help achieve this goal. 

4. Choose wisely: You know what you want your philanthropic legacy to be, but now you need to figure out which organizations are doing the work aligned with your values. You may already be in the know, but Toronto Foundation can help you discover more community organizations that are advancing the issues you care about. 

Paul Butler reflects:  “ We are donating to organizations now that we only learned of through Toronto Foundation. Staff will reach out and say: “We noticed you're giving to x. Here are some other organizations that we think you might be interested in.” It gives us a sense of security that Foundation staff know the kind of change we want to see. 

5. Ask the experts: Working with Toronto Foundation gives you access to experts in the field of community impact – both now and into the future. Nicola Hives, Director, Growth Strategies for the Foundation puts it best: “Our work in the sector makes us experts in the future climate and the future context of charitable giving, and we use that expertise to make sure that your legacy will have the biggest possible impact.”  



Together we'll customize your legacy gift to the charitable sector.  Learn more about our bequest program here or connect now with director, growth strategy Nicola Hives.