October 1, 2015

Legacy Gifts: The Gift of a Lifetime

What is a legacy gift? Once called “planned gifts,” simply, these gifts are made by committed individuals upon their deaths.

For most of us, a legacy gift is the culmination of a lifetime commitment to a cause, often the biggest gift we ever make to work that we support and believe in. A handful are made through life insurance, and there are a variety of models that can save taxes to an estate or during a lifetime, but at least at the OHS, almost all are made through wills.

What does the OHS do with legacy gifts? Well, first, we don’t spend them in the current year. They are placed in a fund separate from our operating fund. Some humane societies I know just add legacies to their revenue in the current year. Of course, it is their right. But spending legacies when they come is financially risky as they are an inherently unpredictable source of revenue. And frankly it feels slightly disrespectful to me. While donors can specify how their bequest can be spent, almost none do. I feel in my heart that legacy donors hope their gift will be used for something special, something lasting.

The OHS uses its legacy fund for a variety of purposes. Legacy gifts helped to build our shelter. They have purchased major equipment, like x-ray machines, and the vehicles we use to rescue animals in distress. They have funded pilot projects that grew to permanent programs that are now saving lives. They provide security for the animals for rough times. While other gifts are about today, legacy gifts are often about tomorrow.

We understand that your legacy gift is not like others. It represents the work of a lifetime and we take it very seriously.

Bruce Roney
Executive Director