“75% of Britons regularly give to charity, but only 6% leave a gift in their will.”Eleanor Stead, Deputy National Giving Advisor
Legacies are a wonderful expression of support for the ongoing life of the church community for future generations. Think about the people who have influenced your spiritual life or look around your church for gifts left by our ancestors. Through countless gifts in wills, donors have built and maintained our beautiful church buildings and sustained the ongoing mission of churches in our local communities.
Why should I have a will?
For nearly 500 years, the Church of England has encouraged its members to keep their wills up to date, as an expression of Christian generosity. Read more about the many practical reasons why every Christian should have a will in this Church Legacy leaflet.
Encouraging legacies in your church
- Have a PCC legacy policy and clearly communicate your intentions. Most people will only leave a gift in their will if they think their church will use it for worthwhile projects, not simply to fund operating costs. A legacy policy allows the PCC to prepare and discuss how they would wish to see a gift used. It helps to reassure those interested that the PCC has a policy in place. If possible, try to discourage people from leaving restricted legacies.
- Share stories of how legacies have helped your church or use the experience of others. It is a great way of encouraging people to consider legacy giving and showing thanks to those who have left those generous gifts. You can be inspired yourself by Church Legacy’s video on a gift that transformed a parish in Exeter Diocese, or our blog post on Gillian Morley’s generous gift to our Diocese which founded the Southwark Vision Development Fund.
- Have accessible literature. Legacy giving is something that people will be open to at different points in their life, so ensuring that useful and clear information is available for those who wish to explore it is key. Have a leaflet available in your church, or information on your website. St Peter’s, Limpsfield has a legacy leaflet which you could adapt, or you could make use of this Parish Resources template.
- Mention legacies in other giving material. As people reflect on their generosity, mentioning legacy giving little and often will be a helpful reminder to people to consider it in a timely manner.
PCCs need to agree a policy on how legacy income will be spent, and then communicate this to the
A policy might be along the lines of:
‘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 (for example, children and youth, music, buildings).’
In memoriam gifts
Family and friends often wish to donate a gift to a church in memory of a loved one or friend, perhaps in the form of an item to beautify a church, or for use in worship or church activities. See this Parish Resources guide to encouraging and receiving ‘in memoriam’ gifts.
Legacies and wills: decisions that will help the PCC
This leaflet is 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.
A simple guide to making a will
This booklet is for individuals preparing to write a will.
Legacies and wills: why bother?
This is leaflet is to encourage individual church members firstly to make a will and secondly to leave a gift to their church in their will.
Encouraging legacy giving in your parish
This presentation was delivered at a workshop for Treasurers by the Church of England National Advisor for Legacies & Fundraising.
Church Legacy resources
You can order free copies of Church Legacy resources from its website.