As Grandparents’ Day falls this Sunday, the elderly need to be aware of the vital role they can play in building bridges between the rich and poor, both in Ireland and internationally. That is according to Cartan Finegan, founder of the Gap Year Gift, a novel philanthropic endeavour which encourages people to make their bequests to their grandchildren contingent on their spending six months assisting a charity in the third world or in Ireland.
“Many elderly people see their grandchildren as enjoying a far more affluent lifestyle than they were familiar with themselves in their childhood. In these cases simply leaving them money seems superfluous or inadequate,” said Mr Finegan. “They see money in itself as more likely to spoil their grandchildren than help them.”
Under the Gap Year Gift concept, the money bequeathed to a grandchild would be paid out after he/she had partaken in a charitable initiative following studies or apprenticeship. “The value lies not only in the good work which these young people can achieve over the six months. More importantly, it creates a bond in that person with a third world country, or a local charity, which is likely to endure in some sense for the rest of their lives. And so lifelong charity ambassadors can be spawned through a very simple idea.”
The Gap Year Gift involves no fundraising, and centres around spreading the word to elderly people through clubs and associations about how they can bring about positive change through their grandchildren. “People naturally view the imbalances in the world with a sense of helplessness as they get older,” continued Mr Finegan. “In fact the elderly can be powerful agents for change, not least by spurring young people close to them to become volunteers.
“Even in difficult times, many grandparents will make some bequest. The Gap Year Gift is based on the sum being enough to incentivise, but not to corrupt.”
Grandparents are asked to consult their financial advisor or solicitor when accommodating a Gap Year Gift in their will. Under the concept, trustees are appointed to manage the trust on behalf of the benefactor.
GYG was welcomed by Rotary Ireland at its 2009 AGM and by many other relevant associations.