Living legacies are a 'spurious distraction', giving inquiry is told

Joe Saxton of nfpSynergy tells the hearing in parliament that charities would do better to concentrate simply on legacies

Legacy giving
Legacy giving

US-style living legacies are a "spurious distraction" for the charity sector, according to the co-founder of the research consultancy nfpSynergy.

Speaking at the Charities Aid Foundation’s Growing Giving inquiry in the House of Commons yesterday, Joe Saxton said that if the Treasury was pushed to allow living legacies, a way for wealthy individuals to make substantial tax-effective gifts of assets and cash during their lifetimes, the government might try to bring back plans for a cap on tax relief on charitable donations.

Saxton said: "Living legacies is a spurious distraction. The charity does not get its money until the person dies."

He said the idea was not supported by fundraisers.

His comments came after evidence was given to the same inquiry by Sue Daniels, executive director of Philanthropy Impact, a membership body for philanthropists.

Daniels said living legacies were a "wonderful opportunity" and allowed donors to enjoy their gifts while they were alive, develop relationships with charities and possibly to volunteer.

The voluntary sector-led Philanthropy Review published a charter in 2011 that said living legacies could bring in an additional £400m a year for charities in assets and income.

Daniels said the initiative needed a "bit of a political push".

Speaking to Third Sector after the session, Saxton said: "It would not be a bad thing if we had living legacies, but they are not going to be transformational."

He said it was better to focus on legacy giving because it was something people understood.

Jenna Pudelek

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