Pandemic drives New Zealanders to give more and make wills

New Zealanders have increased their generosity during the pandemic and are more likely to give and create a will, according to a new survey.

Photo: 123rf

Over 3,000 people have been surveyed over the past two years, and the results show more money being given and more people leaving money for charity in their wills.

The results are part of a two-year partnership between the Fundraising Institute and estate planners Perpetual Guardian.

Fundraising Institute executive director Michelle Berriman said the pandemic has made people aware of the difficulties some New Zealand families face.

Donations through fundraising website Givealittle saw a 35.7% increase in donations year-over-year to 2021.

Donations to disability, mental health and environmental causes increased, “alongside the usual favorites of animals, medical research and social services,” the report’s authors said.

Mikaere Clarkson-Steele of social enterprise NUKU sorts through donations to Shop Zero, to support those affected by the floods.

Mikaere Clarkson-Steele of social enterprise NUKU sorting through donations to help those affected by flooding in Westport earlier this year.
Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

The pandemic has made people think about practicalities and plan for worst-case scenarios, Berriman said.

“It has definitely made inequalities and disadvantages more apparent to people, and we know from our survey that people are much more aware that the number of people … struggling to make ends meet has become much larger during the pandemic,” Berriman said.

The Fred Hollows Charity, which provides surgeries and treatments to restore people’s vision in the Pacific, told researchers the money donated often earned many times the number of people it could help.

When his services treat people whose sight is restored or whose vision loss is slowed, there was often someone else or a group whose life had been significantly altered to meet the care needs of the affected patient.

“A donation means more people can return to work or school, so they can build a better future for themselves, their families and their community.”

Pictured with a sample of the essentials drums are (L to R) Area Police Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama, East Coast MP and Cabinet Minister Kiri Allan, the organizers Pauli and Seini Ma'afu, MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti and Minister Meka Whaitiri and Organizer Mele Ma'afu Sinoti.

Many New Zealanders took part in fundraising campaigns for Tonga after an eruption dusted much of the country with ash in January.
Photo: Paul Rickard/Gisborne Herald via LDR

It is estimated that around 83,000 people made a will during the survey period, reducing the number of New Zealanders who have not yet made one to 47-45%.

Around 6% of respondents said they had indicated in their will that they would leave money to charity, while 21% said they intended to do so.

Gifts left in wills average around $5,000, but the largest the survey encountered was $102 million.

The increase in willpower during the pandemic reflects international trends, including overseas research that has shown the threat of Covid-19 meant people realized death was “more real” to them, said the authors of the study.

Perpetual Guardian chief executive Patrick Gamble said the increase in donations was “astonishing”.

However, he warned that too many New Zealanders are dying without a will, which could lead to hardship for loved ones left behind.

“We know that around 1,500 people a year die without a will, and while the [current] the trend is on the rise in terms of people getting their homes in order, having half of the population unprotected by a will is a startling achievement.

“Writing a will is the most effective, accessible and easiest way to ensure your wishes are honored, including guardianship orders for minor children.

“The power of leaving a gift to charity in your will is important, and for that gift to be most effective and powerful, having an independent, professional trustee who understands the charitable sector…can make a real difference. difference for the long-term impact of this donation.”

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