By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on August 2, 2015
You never know when something you say or do impresses someone, or even better, leaves a lasting impression. This is especially important to us in the nonprofit field, where everyone you meet can be a potential donor.
Leaving a good impression could make the difference. As an example, I remember a lady who was forced to surrender her beloved cat due to an unexpected family emergency. As she was crying, she explained to staff at the Suncoast Humane Society that other shelters she had contacted had refused to accept her pet.
Through her tears, she said her goodbyes and left a small donation to help with the care of her cat until he was adopted. We did not hear from this lady again, until recently, when a package was brought to my office containing a very generous bequest.
As we checked our records, the bequest was found to be from that same lady, nearly seven years later. It is well-known that pets play an extremely significant role in our lives. Many pet owners choose to pay back by leaving their assets, in one form or another, to a humane society, because of the many animals they help, allowing them to continue their mission.
A wonderful gentleman whom we lost recently used to come and visit with me on a monthly basis. We both valued our conversations, and the results were always the same. He would leave a generous monthly donation. His visits continued for more than six years. Upon his death, we were informed that, through his will, he was leaving a legacy intending for the humane society to continue his desire to help animals.
There are many planned giving options when leaving a legacy. Ways to continue your support include life insurance policies, wills and bequests, retirement plans, gift annuities and various types of trusts. An attorney can help you make the appropriate decision.
You do not need a large estate to make a difference. What may not seem large to you may be a lifesaver for a humane society. Every dollar given for the future helps ensure the continuation of important programs and services that help both animals and people.
Charitable 501(c)(3) organizations like Suncoast Humane Society survive on individual donations, fundraising events, restricted grants from foundations, income from pet adoptions, and wills and bequests. Of these, only wills and bequests assure their future. For most nonprofits, all other income is needed to meet annual operating budgets.
Speaking of operating budgets, there are creative ways to donate to your favorite charity. Many people leave donations in honor or in memory of loved ones, both two- and four- legged. Often people celebrate a birthday or other special event by urging friends and relatives to donate to the charity, in lieu of giving a gift.
Giving can be very rewarding for the donor, and extremely important for the charity. For a copy of Suncoast Humane Society's planned giving brochure "Leaving a Legacy," call 941-474-7884, or it can be downloaded from the society's website, www.humane.org.