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Five questions to ask when planning a charitable gift in your will

Article by: Rory Green, Senior Director, Principal and Planned Gifts
Article by: Rory Green, Senior Director, Principal and Planned Gifts

Many SFU donors choose to make a meaningful gift in their will to support countless future generations of students. When planning your own gift, it can sometimes seem daunting. Here are five questions I recommend you use to help start your planning.

1. How does a gift to SFU align with my values?

A charitable gift should be an expression of your values and beliefs. When starting to consider leaving a charitable bequest, think about the values that have been important to you throughout your life. Starting here is a helpful exercise to guide you when you start planning the details.

2. What kind of impact do I want to have?

Many SFU donors choose to support students with their charitable bequest. The three main ways to do this are through:

  • Scholarships: Recognize outstanding academic achievement.

  • Awards: Recognize outstanding leadership, entrepreneurship, athletic or community achievements.

  • Bursaries: Provide financial support to students who have demonstrated financial need. Students apply through SFU’s Financial Aid and Awards Office.

3. Do I want to create a lasting endowment that will live on forever?

SFU’s current endowment minimum is $40,000 to establish a named fund supporting a student award, bursary or scholarship. Currently, SFU endowments generate a 5% spend, meaning an endowment of $40,000 supports one scholarship of $2,000 every year, in perpetuity. We encourage endowments of at least $50,000 and ideally $100,000 to ensure they continue to provide meaningful support.

4. Will there be a large tax bill in my estate?

For many Canadians, the largest tax bill you will ever pay is in your estate. Capital gains taxes on appreciated stocks or secondary property, and deemed withdrawal of RRSPs can end up resulting in a large unforeseen tax bill. But with good planning, there are simple ways to reduce the amount of tax owed in your estate. In the year of death and the previous year, a donor may be able to claim a credit for donations up to 100% of their net income.

5. Who should I talk to about my gift?

We encourage donors to speak to your executor and family about your plans to leave a gift in your will to SFU. For many, staying connected to and learning about the impact of their loved one’s charitable bequest provides great comfort.


For many people, a charitable gift in a will is an important part of planning a lasting legacy. A thoughtful bequest gift allows you to carry on your values and support countless people well into the future. The SFU Gift & Estate Planning team is happy to discuss the options with you further at any time and provide sample wording to make it easier for your lawyer or notary when drafting your will.

Just getting started with estate planning? Contact us at giftest@sfu.ca or 778-782-4154 for a free copy of our estate planning guide.

This story is part of our winter 2023 edition of Engage, our magazine celebrating the impact of SFU’s donor community.
To read more stories, please visit the 
Engage landing page.