Can't Take It With You
Why This Grant Is Important
Although there have been questions about specifics of the Cornell findings, the conclusion is that a significant amount of wealth will surface from individuals estates over the next two decades. According to Independent Sector, only 12 percent of household estates nationwide bequeath some amount of money to a charitable organization. Willed estates traditionally designate family members as sole heirs.
The Columbus Foundation had the results of these and others studies in mind when it began funding a public awareness campaign in central Ohio called "Leave A Legacy." Locally, an examination of wills probated in Franklin County, Ohio, showed that less than 3 percent contained charitable provisions. Yet, at the same time, central Ohio led the nation in per capita charitable giving. In other words, the people in this region gave generously to charities while alive, but generally were not making use of estate planning vehicles available to them for charitable giving.
About the Grant
In May of 1996, the Central Ohio Planned Giving Councils used the grant to launch a month-long publicity campaign, which they expect will become an annual event. Using the slogan "Leave Ten," it pushed the idea that individuals consider writing into their wills that 10 percent of their estate will go to charitable causes. The money paid for printing, mailing, meetings and various outreach efforts.
Just one year into the Ohio program, the National Committee on Planned Giving adopted the Leave A Legacy model, distributing materials to all of its local councils. So far, 80 cities have local Leave A Legacy programs in place.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests gifts by bequest are already on the rise. For example, says Jim Luck, in 1996 the Columbus Foundation received 13 bequests that totaled $10 million. In 1997, just after Leave A Legacy began, the number of bequests to the Columbus Foundation doubled (to 26), with gifts valued at $47 millionnearly a five-fold increase over the year before. By comparison, total bequest giving nationwide increased by only 7 percent from 1995 to 1997.
Council on Foundations Information Services Manager Stefan Taske oversees the Great Grants project, an ongoing effort to showcase grants that demonstrate how foundations and corporate giving programs make a difference. To submit examples, email InfoServ@cof.org.