Mind The Gap!

The Gap Year Gift is a practical model for grandparents who wish to inspire and reward the action of their grandchildren in tackling third world poverty and disadvantage.
Strings Attached

When the time came for him to put his affairs in order, the businessman thought long and hard about what his contribution to the world might be. Reasoning that his own children, like most of their generation, were well provided for, he set aside a portion of his wealth to be divided amongst his grandchildren, with one condition: That on completing their education, they would give six months of their professional skills to the poor in a developing country.

When those in his circle learned what he had done and wanted to do the same, he wondered if others across Ireland might be encouraged to follow his lead – and so the Gap Year Gift was born.

How Does It Work?

The grandparent places a sum of money in trust and makes provision in his or her will for that money to be made available to the grandchild between the ages of 21 and 25 (most likely on completion of a trade apprenticeship or college education) on condition that he or she undertakes a six-month field assignment with a recognised development agency in a developing country.

The grandparent appoints two trustees (not the parents) who are likely to enjoy reasonable rapport with the grandchild and who will manage the trust (ensuring that it maintains its value over the years) and evaluate the grandchild’s chosen assignment to ensure it satisfies the conditions of the bequest.

Should the grandchild choose not to undertake an assignment (or if there are is any money left over at the winding up of the trust), the relevant sum is to be donated directly to a third world development agency.

What Do I Do Next?

There are three steps:

    1. Determine the sum of money to be made available to each grandchild. We recommend a reasonable figure that will “offer an incentive rather than corrupt”, typically an amount which will enable them to fund their assignment and spend a further six-month period travelling the world. We estimate that amount to be €30,000 in 2007 values.


    1. Make provision in your will using the following or similar wording: “In order to make a difference and to encourage a sense of involvement and social responsibility in my grandchildren, I assign (total figure) to be placed in trust and (€30,000) distributed to my (named) grandchild between the ages of 21 and 25 on condition that s/he undertakes a six-month field assignment with a recognised development agency in a developing country on approval by the (named) trustees.”


  1. Appoint two trustees (we suggest that one of whom is, ideally, in their early twenties) to manage the trust and evaluate the grandchild’s proposed assignment according to your wishes. We recommend that you write separately to the trustees confirming any conditions you wish to apply.

Gap Year Gift is a not-for-profit initiative of a small number of business colleagues.

It aims to encourage action by grandparents and their grandchildren and is designed to succeed with little administrative support. We recommend you discuss your Gap Year Gift plans with your own professional advisers, e.g. your accountant or solicitor.