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2 min read
Creating a lasting legacy: Dennis Altman on leaving a bequest
Written by Dom O'DonnellPosted on 12/12/2022
Leaving a gift or bequest in your Will is a big decision to make. What will future generations need? What will progress look like years from now?
Writer and academic Dennis Altman recently chose to leave a bequest to his fund at Australian Communities Foundation – a decision he made for two reasons.
“First, knowing that it will be invested and grown into an ongoing source of funding for my focus areas makes it a more attractive option than simply leaving a one-off gift to charity.
“As a gay man, I am very conscious that relatively little philanthropy supports queer causes. I am particularly passionate about supporting people seeking asylum because of their sexuality or gender identity, of whom there will sadly be more in coming years.
Knowing that the Foundation will be there to identify new projects aligned with my interests reassures me that I can contribute to progress for future generations.
“Secondly, one of the things I’ve learnt about good philanthropy is that it should actually aim to have itself replaced,” says Dennis. “If you’re funding a program and it’s really good, then I think the state should start funding it. But you often need those pilot projects that have a new vision for change. There’s been a number I’ve seen that have been successful in this sense. So perhaps the projects I’m funding today won’t need funding tomorrow.
“Knowing that the Foundation will be there to identify new projects aligned with my interests reassures me that I can contribute to progress for future generations.”
Dennis says he sees his giving as a tool for promoting change, and encourages others to approach their giving in this way too.
“I think it’s important that one gives money to promote social change, and that you don’t just give money to support the status quo. Of course, there are humanitarian crises where you give money. Probably most people who give money have done so at various points knowing that they will have no lasting impact, but that they are helping people in desperate need.
“There’s certainly value in that kind of giving, but I think beyond that, one needs to recognise that money is an important tool for change. I think that is the whole point of a place like a community foundation. It encourages people to think of giving money as a pathway to lasting change.”