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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Bequests build a community 

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John Bennett

Ever thought about the long-term future of the Northern Rivers and how you can help it to be a better place to live for all?

I am a great believer in the saying ‘money is like manure, if you pile it up it stinks, it’s made to spread around’. One of the best ways to spread it around is to make a bequest to the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF).

I really support the idea of bequests. My old friend Tony Narracott had done so much to help the youth of Byron Shire so when he knew his time was near, I took him to lunch and put this proposal to him: ‘Tony, our community would really like to remember you in perpetuity, so how about you set up a named fund with NRCF, the Tony Narracott Youth Fund, which will support our local youth long after you’ve gone’.

He immediately agreed to donate $20,000 and gave a cheque for this amount to his son Andrew to give to the NRCF when he died a few months later.

This Youth Fund has now grown to well over $100,000 and has allowed Tony’s dream to come true.

Registered charity

The Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) is a registered charity operating since 2004, with full ATO deductible gift recipient status. Donations are pooled and ethically invested in a perpetual fund with the tax-free income distributed through carefully managed and strategically targeted annual grants programs to local community organisations.

Since 2004, it has distributed well over $1.5m to 98 local organisations across the Northern Rivers, from Grafton to Tweed Heads, in areas such as disadvantaged youth, education, the homeless, the disabled, and victims of abuse.

It is overseen by a board of volunteers including lawyers, social workers, accountants, financial experts, local business people, and community leaders. Overheads are kept to a bare minimum.

You can help the NRCF help others in two ways:  

Firstly, by giving one-off donations or regular monthly contributions or, secondly, by leaving a bequest in your will.  

Leaving a bequest ensures that the vital support we provide to your community will keep going well beyond your lifetime, by ensuring that the Foundation continues indefinitely.

Held in perpetuity

A bequest to our local giving fund will be held in perpetuity, along with gifts of other generous donors, and the income from them distributed annually to those in most need. 

Bequests of $25,000 and over can be used to establish your own named, themed, or memorial sub-fund, for example The John Smith Memorial Subfund. Family and friends can also contribute to your fund thereby keeping your memory and passion alive. Bequests happen after you die so you are protecting your cash flow now but planning to help support a cause you really believe in. On the other hand, if you have spare cash now it’s great to give now and get the satisfaction of making a difference.

A few years ago I told the NRCF that I would leave a bequest to the foundation and it was not until I had a suspected heart attack while travelling and was on my way to Oberon Hospital that I thought ‘Oh no, I haven’t updated my Will yet’.  

So with help from my solicitor, I did soon after.

My philosophy was to make sure I looked after my family first, but I also believe that ‘one should give one’s children enough so they have a bed to sleep in but not so much that they won’t get out of bed’. I then spoke to each of my three children and asked them if they would agree to my bequest where I split my major asset – some shops in Byron Bay – equally among the three of them and the foundation.

I was thrilled that all three agreed immediately and supported the idea wholeheartedly. My bequest is split two-thirds to the youth of Byron, Lismore and Ballina Shires, and one-third to the SCU/Bowen Education Fund, set up by my very good friends Peter and Julie Bowen.

To give me a long-lasting connection, I requested that my daughter Melanie Rowsell and Jules Hunt sit on the Grants Committee for the Youth Fund and my wife Jennifer Regan and Peter Bowen do so for the Education Fund.  

Everyone should have a Will. If you haven’t got around to it yet, maybe start modestly and add more later.

If you don’t have a solicitor we suggest you contact one, and I am happy to provide the contacts of local solicitors who are both NRCF supporters and well experienced in estate law.

They can help you decide what type of gift you’d like to leave: a sum of money, or perhaps you’ve got property or shares, or are thinking to give a percentage or ‘residue of your estate’.

Of course, it is important to look after your family first, and then think of the NRCF and those less fortunate in our community.   

Having lived here in the Northern Rivers for 38 years, more than half my life, I feel a very strong bond to the area and have great faith that the Northern Rivers Community Foundation is extremely well managed and will continue to help those in need for many years to come.  

Should anyone wish to discuss bequests with me, as the Bequest Ambassador for the NRCF, in confidence, I will be very happy to talk to them.

Please call me on 0416 050 755 or email me on [email protected]  

♦ John Bennett is from NRCF.


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