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September 2, 2019

Let’s talk about Gifts in Wills

More than 100 of Australia’s most-loved charities join together for one week in September to ask one single question – Would you ever think about including your favourite charities in your Will?

Include a Charity Week aims to raise awareness of just how important charitable gifts in Wills are to the vital work of many charities like The National Breast Cancer Foundation. By encouraging more Australians to consider including a modest gift in their Will to their favourite charities, a huge impact can be achieved.

It’s another way people can support causes that are close to your heart and make a lasting difference.


First-hand experience with breast cancer inspires bequest

It was while doing the rounds of routine health checks that Community and Development fundraiser Diana Morison discovered she had stage 3 breast cancer.

It was the support of her family, friends, her GP and North Shore Hospital staff during those difficult days that got the St Ives resident through a lumpectomy and seemingly endless rounds of chemotherapy and then radiation treatment.

Four years later, the 59-year-old mother of two is cancer-free but enduring 6 more years of cancer prevention drug Tamoxifen which comes with its own challenges. She has been working for the past six months at the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) as their Gifts in Wills Executive and is leaving the Foundation a gift in her Will which will fund talented Australian researchers to make discoveries which will protect future generations from breast cancer.

Diana had always been particularly passionate about gifts in Wills and has been a Community and Development fundraiser for private schools on Sydney’s north shore for many years. When a part-time job position became available to lead the bequest team at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, she knew this was a fabulous way she could make a positive difference.

“I can talk about the need for gifts in Wills from my own experience with breast cancer,” she said. “I have benefited from the generosity of Australians whose gifts in Wills have funded extensive scientific research which enabled me to receive the state of the art treatment and care that I did. There is still so much more research needed though so every gift is treasured.

“If all Australians left a gift in their Will to a charity, imagine the enormous difference that could make to Australian society. I was inspired to leave NBCF a gift in my Will. I have two daughters, and I don’t want them or their loved ones to experience the trauma of breast cancer.”

Diana Morison, NBCF Gifts in Wills Executive

Diana Morison, NBCF Gifts in Wills Executive

She says her husband Max arrived at the same point when they were discussing their Wills not long ago: they want to ensure their daughters are well provided for, but they also wanted to support the organisation that had helped her survive. Max is also happily leaving a bequest to NBCF.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, with one in seven women and one in 675 men expected to be diagnosed within their lifetime. Its incidence is increasing – meaning far too many sisters, mothers, brothers, daughters, fathers, wives, sons and husbands will be impacted, far too often.

NBCF aim to reduce this impact through research to improve treatment outcomes and stop breast cancer from taking the people we love.

Diana’s daughters, aged 29 and 31 support the idea of sharing their parents’ estate with NBCF and other charities the family support. “While we don’t have the hereditary gene that causes breast cancer, the girls are mindful that breast cancer can strike anyone and they want to see a cure,” she said.

Diana is one of the people who has responded to a clarion call from charities to consider extending their generosity beyond their lifetime. Close to 90 charities team up every year to hold Include a Charity Week (9-15 September), to educate the public about the importance a gift in the Will can make to charitable causes.

She says you don’t have to be wealthy to include a gift in your Will and that many hardworking people are happy to leave a little something after providing for loved ones, which Helen Merrick, Include a Charity’s campaign director, agreed with.

“Many Australians feel that gifts in Wills are only for the wealthy, but this is a myth. Any amount is greatly appreciated and can help charities to deliver programs for the needy and plan for future work,” said Helen.

Diana urged other North Shore residents to listen to Include a Charity’s message.

Currently, only 7.4 per cent of Australians leave a bequest to a favourite cause in their Will, although 25 per cent say they would like to.

Many of Australia’s most-respected charities support the campaign including Royal Flying Doctor Service, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Greenpeace, MS Research, World Vision Australia, The Smith Family, UNICEF, RSPCA and many others. View the list of charities

Include a Charity has created a free checklist of things to consider in the Will-writing process like who to talk to before you start writing, common mistakes to avoid, and how to make a lasting impact.

“We’re happy some of our estate will go toward the work of finding a cure for a disease that affects so many women and their families,” said Diana.

To read more about leaving a gift to NBCF click here.