Securing Tomorrow’s Success, Today
Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund) was incorporated via a declaration of trust in 2002 to acquire and administer a permanently restricted pool of funds (“endowment”), the proceeds of which would be used to fund research and education programs in perpetuity. Given the long lives of trees and the extensive commitment of time and resources that it takes to produce and document quality research, this stable pool of perpetual funds has proven to be a most effective approach to empowering scientific discovery and the dissemination of new knowledge in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry.
For individuals and families who wish to make legacy gifts that are guaranteed to support their own philanthropic interests and intentions in perpetuity, planned or deferred gifts may provide the most effective ways of achieving such goals. Unlike annual giving – where a donor makes a contribution to a charity as an outlay of current assets or income – planned gifts are essentially current decisions to make future gifts, most often as part of the distribution of a donor’s estate.
As their name suggests, planned gifts do indeed require more planning than most current gifts or income or equity, often including legal and accounting counsel from a donor’s trusted advisors. Because these gifts produce philanthropic benefits to their recipient organizations, there may be benefits to the donors and/or their heirs via reductions in state and/or federal income, capital gains, estate, and/or gift taxes.
There are many ways to make planned gifts, the most simple of which are life insurance policies, designated distributions from retirement funds, or bequests, where donors designate a percentage or a specific amount of their estate to the recipient charity. (Note: Specific amounts are preferable, as they do not require a full valuation of the estate before distribution can be made). For donors over the age of 70 ½ years who are required to take minimum annual distributions from their Traditional or Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), up to $100,000 may be directed to charitable causes, with potentially significant tax savings each year.
More complex planned giving arrangements such as charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder unitrusts, charitable remainder annuity trusts, lead trusts and others my provide donors with guaranteed income for the remainder of their lives in exchange for funds transferred to charities now. The gist of most such gift vehicles involves a donor making a current gift to a charity with commensurate tax benefits, the charity paying the donor per agreed-upon terms from those funds in the years that follow, with the remainder of the funds at the donor’s death remaining with the charity in perpetuity.
TREE Fund’s endowment is held and administered by the Chicago Community Trust (CCT), the second oldest community foundation in the United States, and one of its largest and most successful nonprofit administrators of charitable investments. CCT can offer expert advice and counsel to prospective donors on the best ways to implement their desired legacies, in conjunction with donors’ own trusted financial and legal advisors. TREE Fund is proud to partner with CCT in fulfilling both our own long-term mission, and donors’ long-term desires.
For more information about Planned Giving options and opportunities, please contact TREE Fund President and Chief Executive Officer J. Eric Smith.