A Gift from the Heavens: How Estate Planning Makes a Difference

Several months ago the phone rang with a message that all fundraisers love to hear – someone wanted to give us money! After a few moments, the conversation took on an even deeper meaning when I learned that the gift was actually a bequest to Genesis from a gentleman who had named the agency in his will, and that I was talking to the estate officer assigned to execute the trust account.

I am always in awe of how kind and generous the people of this community are toward Genesis. From supporting our special events or donating gently used items to our Benefit Thrift Store, to joining our auxiliary groups or making monthly gifts, our donors are an absolute blessing to our agency. In fact, because Genesis neither solicits nor receives government funding, we rely on the generous support of our community in order to be able to help women and children live the abuse-free lives they deserve.

When someone decides to leave Genesis in their will, alongside gifts for the people they love and the causes that matter most, it reminds us of the humbling responsibility we have to be good stewards of the gifts we receive. While every single donation makes a difference, this contribution was particularly significant. And, it was donated by a gentleman who we did not know personally, whose name did not appear in our database and who never interacted with Genesis in any other way. The new tax laws are projected to impact charitable giving, with the increase in standardized deduction expected to decrease the size and numbers of year-end gifts. While it is our duty to take heed of and to prepare for trends in the industry and changes in tax laws, we also take solace in knowing that many people who give to Genesis do so not just for a tax write-off, but also because they have been affected by domestic violence, or because someone they know turned to us in their time of need, or because they know that their gifts will make a difference in the lives of complete strangers.

Nonprofit work is the work of sowing seeds. At Genesis, we sow seeds of safety, freedom, and hope. We help every woman know that she is worthy of an abuse-free life, and we let every child know that it was not his or her fault. These seeds inevitably produce a bountiful harvest — of clients who find self-sufficiency, of people who volunteer their time, and, yes, of donors who give us money. We do not know which seed took root in that gentleman’s life, but we wish he could see the harvest he has produced – a bountiful harvest that will serve this community for years to come.

To discuss planned giving, contact Jan Langbein at jlangbein@genesisshelter.org.

Written by Bianca Jackson, senior director of fund and community development.

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