Gifts in wills can be a particularly sensitive area of fundraising, so it is important that fundraisers have clear role boundaries. This section sets out standards to avoid undue influence and pressure and manage conflicts of interest while being sensitive to the wishes of the person leaving the gift (the testator) and any conditions they may attach to the gift.
15.1.Legacies – general responsibilities
For more standards on
If a person making a will asks you or any of your officers or employees to act as executor, you must carefully consider whether to agree, bearing in mind the duties and responsibilities of acting as executor and any possible risks to you.
If you are to be appointed as executor and take out the grant of representation in your own name, you must have the power to do so (for charities in England and Wales this usually means that you must have trust corporation status).
15.2.Written communications asking for legacies
You must make it clear that the contents of any communications are not intended to be legal advice from you and that potential testators should get their own professional advice.
If you give a potential testator suggested wording for legacies made to you to be included in their will, you must make sure that the suggested wording is accurate (which may involve getting legal advice) and that you are clearly identified (this will depend on which country you are in, but will usually mean providing your full name, company number, address and the registered office address if you are a company, and registered charity number, if this applies).
15.3.Communicating in person
You must be open about the reason for an invitation to an event if it is about legacies or if
You must not exploit beneficiaries or supporters by using them as case studies or testimonials for legacy giving, and must respect their dignity and privacy. If you want to use case studies, you must get permission from the testator (or if they have died, from the person responsible for the estate) if possible.
- accepts the person’s right to invite other people of their choice to be present at any stage of the meetings;
- reminds the person of the purpose of the visit;
- makes sure that the meeting is carried out in a way and at a length that is sensitive to and suits their interests and concerns;
- accepts the person’s right to end the meeting at any time, and does this promptly and politely; and
- makes and keeps attendance notes of meetings and communications with the person on file.
15.4.Involvement of charitable institutions in making a will
You (or your fundraiser) must not draft, or be directly involved in drafting, wills in your favour.
15.5. Fundraisers’ relationships with potential testators
Close relationships can develop between a fundraiser and a person considering leaving a legacy to a charitable institution. This can sometimes benefit the
15.6.Paying for wills with charity funds
There are considerable risks to you in paying the costs involved in making a will which includes a legacy to you, so it is discouraged. But if you want to do this, you:
- must not insist that you receive a
legacyor that you are appointed as executor in exchange for paying for the will;
- must always recommend to the person making the will that they should get independent legal advice; and
- must make it clear to the person making the will that the solicitor or other will writer will be acting only in their interests and on their instructions.
Charity Commissionfor England and Wales: Raising funds through wills and charitable legacies – for guidance on paying for wills with charityfunds
- Institute of
LegacyManagement: Good Practice Guidance – for guidance on the ethics of legacy fundraising
15.7.After a legacy has been made
Ongoing contact with
If you can meet the conditions and you accept a legacy, you must follow those conditions.
If you are a charity and receive a legacy for a specific purpose, you must contact the
- the purpose has been fulfilled or otherwise provided for;
- the money or gift can no longer be used for that purpose;
- the purpose is no longer a charitable purpose; or
- the intended purpose has stopped being a suitable and effective use of the money or does not provide a use for all the money.
If a legacy is left under the condition that it is used for a particular purpose, you must not use the
You must respect the testator’s or their estate’s wishes about any public recognition of the gift.
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