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A crucial will-making conversation

25 August 2016 - By Eleanor Cater

7.5% and 30%. Two important figures when it comes to bequest gifting in New Zealand.

The first figure, 7.5%, represents the number of people who currently leave a bequest to a charity in their will. The second, 30%, represents the number who say that they would leave a bequest if they were prompted, or even knew that it was an option.

These figures represent a huge gap, and hundreds of millions of dollars, worth of potential income to charities in New Zealand.

“Lawyers are really key and that conversation is crucial,” says Include A Charity Board Chair, Dianne Armstrong.

“Research shows that twice as many people will leave a gift to a charity in their will if they are prompted by the simple question “Have you considered … (leaving a gift in your will to charity?)”. Lawyers really do have real potential, without any coercion whatsoever, to do so much good for charities.

“There’s also a common misconception that bequests are only for the ‘rich and famous’ but in reality charities receive all sorts of support, both big and small, as gifts in wills, so one of our key messages is that gifts in wills are for everyone.”

In fact, out of the $150 million in bequests gifted to charities in 2015, half were under $20,000 and half were over this figure.

“What these figures show is that it’s a myth, therefore, that bequest giving is only for the rich and famous. We are seeing every day New Zealanders weaving gifts to charities into their estate planning,” Ms Armstrong says.

Include A Charity is a collective of over 70 charities who are working to raise awareness around bequests to charities. Currently the total amount per annum gifted to charities is around $150 million (reported in 2015) and the aim is to grow this to over $300 million over the next five years.

The Include A Charity campaign runs over a concentrated week, from 5 to 11 September, targeting over 50s and prompting them to update their will (and also consider leaving a gift to a charity or cause they are passionate about).

“Research shows that twice as many people will leave a gift to a charity in their will if they are prompted by the simple question ‘Have you considered … (leaving a gift in your will to charity?)’ ”

“Include A Charity members are leading the way and boldly working together to create a shift in perceptions, to make gifting in wills a social norm in New Zealand. Lawyers could certainly be assisting the cause and helping to shape the charity fundraising landscape into the future, by doing something as simple as asking ‘that’ crucial question.”

Include a Charity is made up of a group of New Zealand’s favourite charities aiming to encourage New Zealanders from all walks of life to leave a charitable gift in their will. Those interested in making a will can browse charities at To find out more, or to get hold of some impartial leaflets for your clients, email

Eleanor Cater is Communications and Campaign Manager at the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand. She is also a publicly elected trustee at the Porirua Community Trust and sees the real difference that successful charity fundraising is making in communities across the board.

Last updated on the 24th August 2016