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Donating to charity not about death but your life

By 
  • November 5, 2021

For the Will Power campaign, tiny percentages add up to big numbers.

The public education campaign launched in September by the Canadian Association of Gift Planners aims to increase the percentage of Canadians using their Will to give to charity by just 3.5 per cent over the next 10 years. If it hits the target, the campaign believes it will result in approximately $40 billion for charity.

“There is skyrocketing need for charitable services as our population ages, with environmental disaster — I could go on,” said campaign director Laurie Fox. “Resources for those charities to meet those needs are in decline.”

Slicing off just two or three per cent of an average-sized estate of $800,000 to $850,000 for charity translates into a gift of over $10,000, points out Fox.

“It’s not just for the wealthy. All Canadians can give this way,” said Fox.

There are also tax advantages.

“At the end of one’s life, when all your assets are realized, you have that big chunk of change. That’s going to be a hefty tax bill,” Fox points out. “That’s going to be the biggest tax bill you’ve ever received in your life. Your estate is going to be taxed on that. If you can leave a gift to charity, that offsets a lot of those taxes. You’re making a choice between giving to the tax man and giving to charity.”

The Will Power campaign website, willpower.ca, can hook you up with a financial advisor and can also walk you through adding a charity to a new or existing Will. 

But the campaign isn’t just aimed at individuals. A parish, a foundation, even a diocese can participate in the campaign.

“That provides them and their parish members with tools to start thinking about their parish as a gift in their Will, adding their parish to their list (of beneficiaries), contacting their lawyer or their notary to start planning their gift,” said Fox.

In the early going of the campaign, charities with Catholic connections who have secured a place on the Will Power website include St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, L’Arche Toronto, Covenant House, Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ont., and half a dozen hospital foundations.

Having an open conversation about what’s in your Will is not some uncomfortable, depressing conversation about death, said Fox.

“It’s not about death. It’s about your life. It’s about what your life is all about, what’s meaningful in your life and the biggest impact you can make,” she said.

The next 10 years spent moving Canadians from just five per cent giving to charity in their Wills to 8.5 per cent is just the beginning for Will Power.

“Our long-term goal, our vision for this campaign, is that we make it the social norm in Canada.”

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