I remember being deeply moved by a short film my junior year in Mr. Podlas’s art class. The basic theme was creativity and how creating something allows you to leave a unique contribution to the world. Since the beginning of time, people have left their mark in ways profound and ordinary, through original music, inventions, medical breakthroughs, children, good deeds and perfected recipes.
Fortunately, many have left their mark through their generosity. Perhaps Warren G. Buffet is the ultimate example. To celebrate his 82nd birthday, he recently pledged $1 billion to his three children, provided they use it to fund their charitable foundations.
What about ordinary folks with a far lesser nest egg? Family is top priority for most, but leaving something to a community organization means contributing to a greater good. It means being some small part of something significant that will continue into the future.
WNED public broadcasting is honored to be the beneficiary of estate gifts totaling $2.6 million over the past 50 years. The 55 donors (including 30 now deceased and 26 who have made plans for a lasting gift) are all members of the WNED Legacy Society.
Colleen Miller, WNED’s director of Leadership Circle and Founder’s Society, shed some light on these special benefactors.
What kind of person becomes a legacy donor?
CM: We have inquiries about our Legacy Society from members of all ages. They tell us it’s never too early to begin their estate planning. Our typical legacy donor is a longtime member of WNED (television and radio) who wants to help insure that public broadcasting services continue after they’re gone.
What inspires people to make legacy gifts?
CM: First, the needs of the organization. Second, seeing others do it. Third, tax incentives (really a minor reason).
Have you had any unusual/interesting requests for use of legacy funds?
CM: We really encourage unrestricted gifts that we can use in perpetuity. Some are dedicated to a particular station, such as our classical music station.
Are there anonymous donors? How many?
CM: To date, there are three anonymous donors.
If you ever stop by the WNED headquarters building in downtown Buffalo, you can see Legacy Society member names displayed on a special Legacy Wall. Whenever I walk by, I think about their choice to leave something to public broadcasting. I think they made a good choice, a creative one, and I wonder what their gift might help accomplish for future generations. I appreciate their generosity and I hope to follow their example someday and leave a little something to a cause that made a difference in my life.
If you’d like to find out more about the WNED Legacy Society, contact Colleen Miller at (716) 845-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would you like your legacy to be? What organization has made a difference for you or your family?