“Good is no good, but if it be spend, God giveth good for none other end.”Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) was one of the most celebrated English poets of his time. He was born into a middle-class Protestant family in London. He lived in Ireland for most of his adult life and wrote most of his poetic works at his estate near Cork.
He is best known for his epic poem, The Faerie Queene, which celebrated Queen Elizabeth I as the Faerie Queene Gloriana. Spenser planned 12 books, each for a specific Christian virtue. He only completed six before his death.
Despite his talent and reputation, Spenser lived in relative poverty for much of his life. The Faerie Queene won him favour with the Queen, who granted him a modest pension of £50 a year. This amount was not enough for Spenser to sustain any substantial wealth.
Spenser died in London on January 16, 1599, at age 47. The cause of his death was recorded as being “for lack of bread” and from “a disease and grief.” His funeral was held in Westminster Abbey, where other literary figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer were buried.
This poignant quote from Spenser eloquently expresses that goodness and virtue achieve their highest purpose only when shared generously with others. Goods kept for ourselves fail to produce the exponential ripple effects that giving creates.
Spenser’s own life speaks profoundly to this idea. Despite living in poverty, Spenser gifted his literary talents to the world. His poetry continues to be celebrated centuries later for its beauty and artistry. Spenser spent his goodness on writing for others rather than hoarding solely for himself.
How Spenser’s Quote Connects to Philanthropic Legacy
Spenser’s quote beautifully embodies the spirit of philanthropy. For goodness and wealth to achieve their highest purpose, they must be generously spent to uplift others.
Financial wealth is a form of goodness that can create exponential impact when donated charitably. Like Spenser’s poetry, gifted wealth can elevate communities for generations beyond the donor’s lifetime. But wealth kept solely for oneself remains limited to just one lifespan.
Creating an Inspiring Legacy Through Your Will
You have an incredible opportunity to “spend your goodness” after your lifetime by leaving a charitable legacy gift in your Will. Designating even a small percentage of your estate to charity can further ripples of good that will uplift others for decades to come.
Even 1% of your estate could create lasting change through whatever cause inspires you most.
As Spenser expressed, goodness achieves its purpose only when generously spent. Leave an inspiring legacy for others by planning a charitable gift in your Will. You have the power to support your loved ones and spread exponential good after your lifetime.
Choosing the Right Charitable Gift
With thoughtful planning, you can leave a tax-efficient charitable gift in your Will that harmonizes your family’s needs with your desire to do good. Here are some popular options:
Percentage of Estate – Leave a percentage (e.g. 5-10%) of your entire estate to charity. This allows your gift to remain proportionate as your estate value changes.
Residue Gift – Leave the remainder or “residue” of your estate to charity after providing for loved ones first. This allows you to look after the family before charitable giving.
Life Insurance – Donate some or all of the death benefit directly and quickly to charity, bypassing your Will.
Donor-Advised Fund – Establish a donor-advised fund in your Will. Your loved ones can then recommend grants from the fund to support causes you care about.
Charitable Remainder Trust – Funds a charitable trust that provides annual income to loved ones before the remainder goes to charity.
With help, you can customize a charitable gift that thoughtfully provides for your family and makes a meaningful impact for your causes.
Take Inspired Action for Good
Spenser’s words beautifully illustrate how shared goodness creates exponential positive change. You can choose to invest your wealth for the uplift of others long after your lifetime. Even small gestures today can have ripple effects that touch lives for generations.