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Supporting good causes this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 10:11 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:11 29 November 2017


The festive time is the season of giving, and alongside gifts under the tree many of us think of charity at this time of year. Whether you are an individual thinking about supporting a cause close to your heart or a charity raising funds, there are a number of important issues to consider

Philanthropy on the rise in the UK

The South East is one of the most generous regions in the UK, giving the highest median amount to charity according to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

We regularly work with individuals, families and business owners who wish to use their wealth in support of good causes. For an increasing number of people this can involve establishing a charitable fund perhaps through CAF or a UK community foundation. CAF reports that such ‘donor advised funds’ are on the rise as individuals and families build their own charitable funds to support the causes close to their heart. Not to be left behind, we have taken the plunge ourselves and set up our own community fund, mentioned in more detail later on.

Sometimes our clients wish to set up their own charity and we can advise them on the pros and cons of doing so since this is not a route to be taken lightly.

In addition, there are many simple ways in which you can give tax efficiently to your chose charity during your lifetime. Two obvious and often forgotten options include Payroll Giving and Gift Aid.

Payroll Giving allows you to gift money straight to a charity from your income before tax is deducted. The amount of tax relief you get depends on the rate of tax you pay but if you are a higher rate taxpayer then for every 60p you donate the charity will receive £1.

Provided you earn sufficient income, then, if you donate money through Gift Aid then charities and community amateur sports clubs can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give. If you are a higher or additional rate tax payer you can claim tax relief on the donations you make. Keeping proper records is essential.

Lifetime giving is important but ensuring that you have considered gifts to charity in your will is critical. Many charities depend upon legacies, with this source of income accounting for a quarter of the total amount given to charities each year. Yet, despite this only one in three people have actually made a will, and of those only about a quarter will mention a charity.

If you die without a will then the intestacy rules will govern who inherits your assets and charities will never benefit under these rules. It is also possible to benefit from a lower rate of inheritance tax if you leave a certain percentage of your assets on death to charity. By taking proper advice on this you can benefit your chosen charities without your other beneficiaries having to miss out as HMRC will effectively be making up the difference. We find that this is generally a situation that clients are very happy with! 

Focus on fundraising

The rise of philanthropy is something to celebrate. But charities have been under pressure over the last eighteen months with negative publicity over their fundraising tactics. Last year, new legislation and a new Fundraising Regulator sought to address some of these issues, changing the fundraising landscape for charities.

Our charities legal team has recently launched guidance for charities on fundraising to help navigate the maze of rules and regulations. 

Charity begins at home: the Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund

We are passionate about charities and philanthropic giving so last year we launched the Charles Russell Speechlys Community Fund to fund projects in and around Guildford focusing on employment, training and skills initiatives.

In the first year we supported six inspiring projects with grants to The Boileroom, Skillway, Change of Scene, Challengers and Wey House School. We recently announced that the fund will double in 2017-2018 with the first grant of our second year going to the 1st Guildford Boys’ Brigade.

We manage our Community Fund though the Community Foundation for Surrey, an independent charitable trust working with donors who want to give something back to their local communities. If you are a Surrey-based charity which enables people to widen their horizons and aspirations please contact Kate Peters from the Community Foundation for Surrey about funding opportunities: 01483 478092 or info@CFSurrey.org.uk. 

Our top tips for giving

• Make a will and ensure you get advice about how to benefit your chosen charity effectively

• Find out if your employer runs a payroll giving scheme

• Make sure you complete a gift aid declaration for donations so that your chosen charity can claim the additional funds

Our top tips for charities

• Transparency and clarity is important - keep your message simple

• Ensure you make your supporters aware of the fundraising preference service

• Get proper advice! 

Sally Ashford is a partner in Charles Russell Speechlys’ private wealth practice, advising individuals and family business owners on ways to grow and protect family wealth. Sally also acts for many charity clients dealing with all aspects of legacy administration. Please contact Sally via email on sally.ashford@crsblaw.com or telephone 01483 252508.


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