Encouraging legacy giving in your parish
Making a will and keeping it up to date is good Christian stewardship. Churches should be encouraging, whether or not church members are likely to include their church in their will.
For nearly 500 years, the Church of England has encouraged its members to keep their wills up-to-date. The Book of Common Prayer gives firm guidance on will making. In the section on 'The Visitation of the sick', people are 'admonished' to make their will and the more general point is made that they should often be reminded about settling their estate whilst in health. Much of the land and some church buildings have been built on the generosity of previous generations. There is a strong tradition of leaving a legacy to support the mission of the Church.
Most people will only leave gifts in their wills if they think the church will use them well. So, it is good practice for PCCs to agree a policy on how legacy income will be spent; things such as development or mission projects and not just to fund operation costs.
It is a good idea to discourage people from leaving restricted legacies. A legacies policy might look something like the following:
The policy of the PCC is to use legacies to help fund significant development projects in the parish, whether buildings, equipment or staff. As circumstances change over the years, it may not be possible to fulfil specific donor requests, so church members are encouraged to leave legacies for the general purposes of the parish. The PCC will discuss with executors the most appropriate use of the legacy in the light of current projects and the donor's known areas of interest in the church (e.g. children & youth, music, buildings).
Communications & Resources have produced materials to help parishes encourage legacy giving by members of their congregation. The materials emphasise that any PCC strategy on legacies should have two aims:
- to encourage members of their congregation to make a will and review it regularly.
- to encourage members of their congregation to consider leaving a gift to their church in their will
The materials available consist of:
- Legacies and Wills – Decisions that will help the PCC. A leaflet designed to help PCCs think through some of the initial decisions they will need to take to encourage legacy giving, such as agreeing a legacy policy.
- Where there’s a will... A detailed A4 guide for PCCs on how to encourage legacy giving and run a legacy campaign in your parish.
- Legacies and Wills – Why bother. A leaflet aiming to encourage individual church members firstly to make a will and secondly to leave a gift to their church in their will.
- A simple guide to making a Will A detailed booklet for individuals preparing to write a will. This A5 booklet includes subjects to consider before visiting a solicitor as well as glossary of technical wording.
If you would like more copies or guidance on how best to use the material, please contact Gabby Parikh.