Planned Giving for Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups

Your animal shelter or rescue group can be the recipient of a legacy of love and financial support from animal lovers who remember homeless pets in their wills, estate plans, trusts, and retirement accounts. Often these gifts are substantial and give the financial boost needed to buy property for a new shelter, add on to your current building, buy a mobile adoption unit, etc.

You may have read the news story recently about Rodney Strong from a wine-growing family near Healdsburg, CA. He left more than $2.4 million to the local shelter in his will. These funds will allow the shelter to build a new state of the art 4500 square foot facility to replace a facility more than fifty years old. Mrs. Strong preceded her husband in death. Both obituaries requested donations be given to the Healdsburg Animal Shelter. This animal-loving couple had no children.

How can your shelter or rescue group be remembered in the wills of animal lovers in your community? Following are some ways to encourage the end of life-giving:

Include a page on your website about planned giving. Suggest a gift through a living will or trust, as a retirement plan beneficiary designation, in a gift of life insurance, gifts of stock, donation of real estate, and/or as an income beneficiary from a charitable remainder trust.

Contact a lawyer or accountant who specializes in estate planning to help write the copy for this page. Ask a lawyer specializing in estate planning to help write a downloadable fact sheet in PDF format on planned giving ideas.

Submit an article to your local newspaper about planned giving on behalf of homeless pets. Ask a lawyer or accountant to help write this article.

Include an article about planned giving in your print and/or email newsletter.

Send a letter to your donors explaining the planned giving opportunity with an offer to send more information.

Sponsor a presentation on how planned giving works. Ask an accountant or lawyer to conduct the class. Ask a lawyer and/or accountant to prepare printed information for participants to take home. The presentation should be specific and include exactly what needs to be done to participate. Send a press release to your local newspaper announcing the date and time.

Always mention that readers or attendees consult with their own financial planner, lawyer, or accountant. And give an example of how easy it is to include your shelter in a will. Ask a lawyer to read and approve any letters or website copy you publish concerning planned giving.

Mention special considerations involved in leaving real estate gifts. Here in Santa Fe an elderly couple left a real estate gift to the local shelter. Concerns arose that the trustee in charge of selling the property did not exercise his proper fiduciary responsibility to sell the property for the highest price possible. The trustee chosen to handle these matters is extremely important since the value of the gift can be substantially reduced if the property is sold for less than market value.

Many people leave funds to their favorite charities upon their death. Your shelter can be a recipient of a long-lasting legacy from supporters of the homeless pets in your area.

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