By Kaveed Ali, COO at UK Community Foundations
Legacy funds are a testament to the enduring power of giving, but there is far more to them than just money. They are about leaving a lasting imprint, a gift that goes on. This profound act of generosity extends far beyond individuals and families as a powerful force for good for communities everywhere.
At its heart, a legacy represents a bridge between the past and the future. It’s the embodiment of values and aspirations, transcending generations. These legacies are not just financial bequests; they are a heritage of empathy, compassion and a commitment to community wellbeing. They are the tangible bridge between dream and memory and can express humanity that goes beyond a lifetime.
The impact of legacy funds on UK communities is nothing short of transformative. Funds can often serve as a lifeline for small charities and community-led organisations, providing essential support that might not otherwise be available. Small or large, they continue to bind people and communities together.
It’s not just about the financial assistance, it’s about the recognition and validation of their work. Legacy funds send a powerful message to these organisations that says: “We believe in your mission, and we want to ensure it thrives for future generations.” This level of sustained support fosters stability and security, enabling organisations to dream big, think ahead and ultimately fuel purpose.
Moreover, when legacy funds are created with a community or region in mind, they can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond the immediate recipients. When small charities and community organisations thrive, they, in turn, uplift their communities. Imagine that on a national scale.
Community foundations are strong advocates for legacy giving. They often work with individuals and families who are passionate about important causes in their communities and wish to support them long after they’re gone. One example of many powerful legacies of giving planned through community foundations is that of Austin Hicks, who sadly died from cancer at just 65 years old. His daughter had heard about community foundations and, working with Essex Community Foundation, the family was able to create a fund in his name that helps organisations working on causes Austin cared deeply about.
But legacy funds don’t just come from individuals or families. Recognising the end of an era for a company or trust can mean the start of a new stage of giving. There are dormant trusts and assets scattered across our society, waiting for their purpose to be revitalised. By repurposing these assets into sustainable giving paths, we can ensure that future generations benefit from a legacy that might otherwise have been lost to obscurity.
As companies evolve and merge, their charitable endeavours should also adapt to meet the changing needs of society. Transforming dormant trusts into dynamic, community-focused initiatives not only honours the original intent but also breathes new life into their legacy.
In my personal experience, being involved in a network that cares for and distributes legacy funds feels profoundly rewarding. It’s not just about the financial contributions; it’s about prioritising the well-being of communities beyond any one lifetime. It is stewardship.
Whether we are individuals, families, companies or dormant trusts, we have a responsibility to ensure that our legacy is a force for good through creating a brighter future for generations to come.