“You exist not just for yourself, but also for others”

Maartje ter Horst | 20-03-2023

This is something Clementine Gelauff (73) has known for years. After her death, a sizable portion of her estate will go to charity. “Something I kept running into when I started working on my will – I’ve had one drawn up twice before – is that you have to record which exact organizations you want to donate to. But how could I predict what Amnesty or Doctors Without Borders will be doing ten years from now? And if my money is even needed?” I had a strong desire to leave this decision open-ended. Emma, who feels like a daughter to me, was familiar with Doneer Effectief and asked me to take a look at them”.

Emma came into Clementine’s life just weeks after she was born. As a child, she lived with her mother and sister in the same city and could be found with Clementine one day a week. Clementine explains, “I was eager to care for a child and Emma’s mother was a single mother who wanted time for herself one day a week. A win-win, in other words. So Emma and I formed a bond that made us decide last year that she would be my heir. The fact that I wanted to return to working on my will was largely because of her. I often feel like I’m still very young and full of life. I’m thinking about moving to an eco-neighborhood where you can live on your own while also being part of a group of mostly younger people. The reality in the meantime is that people are dying around me which makes me think: I’m just a speck in the universe, transient. This is an important realization. And I feel so wealthy! I’d like to leave a part to Emma, but not all of it.”

Clementine looks back on a rich career: from working in addiction treatment, women’s counseling and setting up a massage therapy practice to holding management positions in healthcare and administrative coaching, “It was fun! So diverse. Every time I found something I could give my all to.” The common thread running along these paths was caring for others. “I was raised a Catholic, and the Nijmegen student world I later ended up in was a left-wing stronghold. These experiences cause something to stick with you – “You exist not just for yourself, but also for others”.

What causes is Clementine already considering? “My feminist friends would like me to leave everything to a fund dedicated entirely to helping women. I think that is also very useful and good, but the question is of course: how effective are the various projects that such a fund supports? It’s hard to find any concrete information about that. My heart really goes out to the Earth. I feel very connected with nature. I think it’s so important to give our Earth a chance if it’s not too late. At the same time I am also very involved with people. Poverty and welfare cannot be separated. They are simply different viewpoints, both of deep importance to the people of this world. So, I had it declared with Doneer Effectief that my money must go to causes that are working on these themes: Poverty, Welfare and Climate.”

Clementine likes to have her affairs in order: “I give to charities monthly, some donations are through a deed. If you record your donations to a certain cause in such a deed for five years, you can deduct them from your taxes. This means you can actually give more!” Doneer Effectief is right up her alley: “Since I’ve gotten to know Doneer Effectief I’ve been a little more concerned with the effectiveness. To be honest, I am also very moved when I see something on TV about helping a child or something similar – three euros a month to rid a child of malaria. But is that really the case? Now when I feel the need to help out, I think: I’ll send something to Doneer Effectief and then they can figure out where it can do some good. It depends a little less on whether I find a cause personally moving or if I am influenced by a commercial.”

She regularly talks to friends about donating or including charities in your will. “Many friends donate, but people often say, ‘Oh, no, there’s too much money that could be misused, I won’t do it’. This is the easy way out. It really pisses me off! I respond: do your best! Investigate and see what is going on and whether it is really as bad as you think. I happen to be able to read annual accounts but I also understand that not everyone can do the same, but I think complaining is often an excuse to do nothing. I may be able to judge whether a charity director’s salary is appropriate, but it’s difficult for me as a layperson to determine if their work on a cause is effective or not. This is what I love about Doneer Effectief. They make sure my money is spent in the best possible way.”

Orange cross