Charity begins at home

Posted on 20 Feb 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Charity auction house Adelaide

The Salvation Army will receive a $1.82 million windfall from the auction of a house after the deceased owner of the property left instructions in his will that the proceeds of the sale be donated to charity.

The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home on a 746sq m block in the leafy Adelaide suburb of Malvern, was sold for $300,000 above the listed price.

Real Estate agent James Robertson, of Ouwens Casserly, said the circumstances of the sale of 13 Eton St were highly unusual, would have been unsurprising to those who knew the former owner, who had a long history of supporting the Salvos, so would have been unsurprising to those who knew him well.

“I had met the owner a handful of times when he was alive, but I didn’t know what he had done throughout his life,” said Mr Robertson.

“I’ve since learned that he volunteered quite a lot of his time with the Salvos, donating money prior to his passing along with leaving part of his estate as a cash contribution plus the proceeds from the house.

“He obviously felt very passionately about what the Salvos do. It’s pretty amazing.”

Salvation Army head of wills John Tobin
Salvation Army head of gifts and wills SA, John Tobin.

The Salvation Army's head of gifts and wills, John Tobin said while the homeowner had expressed his admiration for the Salvos support for vulnerable people in the community, he was surprised at the extent of the gift.

“While a growing number of people are including a charity in their wills, including the Salvos, it is rare to receive a gift of this magnitude,” said Mr Tobin.

“We did suspect that the gentleman had included our organisation in his will, but we were quite amazed and grateful for this incredible act of generosity.”

Mr Robertson said there was spirited bidding for the property, with four competing couples eager to make the home their own.

He said the fact the proceeds were going to charity was a talking point among those attending the auction and would have certainly played a part in pushing the sale price higher.

“I’m sure people felt a little bit better about their money going towards something like that rather than going into someone else’ back pocket,” said Mr Robertson.

The auction had a community feel about it, with a coffee cart offering free brews and helpers handing out ice creams on a day the temperature hit 34 degrees.

“There was a lot of chat along the lines of ‘maybe I could do a little bit more for charity.’ It was almost like it was a bit of a refresher in that sense,” said Mr Robertson.

Backyard Lounge Bedroom Dining
“After friends and family are taken care of, the money you leave to charity is an investment in a kinder, more inclusive tomorrow.”
Include a Charity campaign director Helen Beeby.

Include a Charity campaign director Helen Beeby described the donation of the proceeds of a house sale to charity as “incredibly powerful.

Include a Charity campaign director Helen Beeby.

“Not only will it make a significant impact on the work of the Salvation Army, but it also highlights to the Australian public the value and joy that is generated from this form of giving.”

Ms Beeby said that humans love the concept of leaving a legacy - a stamp that persists long after we’re gone and sets a positive, optimistic example for future generations.

“Including a gift in your will is a commitment to the longevity of whatever you care most about: be it curing diseases, supporting the arts, helping animals, defending the vulnerable or protecting our environment,” she said.

Ms Beeby said leaving a gift in your will to a cause close to your heart would help ensure that the recipient organisation was able to continue its vital work.

“It’s an investment in humankind, a stake in our collective long-term future,” she said.

“After friends and family are taken care of, the money you leave to charity is an investment in a kinder, more inclusive tomorrow.”

IAC gifts in Wills stats in Australia in FY23 1

Research commissioned by Include a Charity last year found that gifts in wills for Australia’s top 150 charities reached $800 million in 2022 – but that figure could be doubled if more people left bequests.

The Future of Legacy Giving: Boomers and Beyond report found that all generations were feeling uncertain about the future, which was leading to a delay in making long term decisions including will making and bequest giving.

The report said charities needed to use this time to carefully steward and nurture donor relationships to stay front of mind until donors were ready to make their will.

Ms Beeby said raising awareness of the benefits of charitable bequests – which don’t have to be counted in the millions of dollars - has never been more important, as the federal government pursues the ambitious goal of doubling philanthropic giving by 2030.

“Include a Charity aims to foster a societal shift by encouraging open discussions about will drafting and including charitable gifts, along with encouraging the lawyers and estate planners to reference the option of charitable gifts in their will consultations.”

Gifts in Wills are an important part of the Salvation Army's total revenue and it is not unusual to receieve them.

However, most such bequests are relatively small.

The Salvation Army has a small team of people who support members of the community to prepare their wills if they require assistance.

"Our approach is to suggest that they look after their family members first, while giving consideration to leaving a small proportion of their estate, such as 5-10%, to a non for profit organisation such as The Salvation Army," said John Tobin.

"We also oversee what is called our national Community Wills Day program, where members of the community can have a professional will prepared by an independent solicitor for $100 which compares with a normal fee of around $700."

Head to the Salvation Army website or call 1800 337 082 to learn more.

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