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A Giving Culture Takes Hold
Members Have New Opportunity to Support Their Profession

From the August 2002 issue of The Forestry Source

By William H. Banzhaf, CF

Foresters are generous people. We give our time to local communities, religious organizations and, generally, to people who need help. As individuals, none of us entered the forestry profession to make a lot of money.

Through the practice of good forestry, we want to do our part to make the world a better place to live. So it didn't surprise me when members of the Society of American Foresters and organizations supporting forestry gave close to $1.5 million to the Society's Centennial Campaign. These dollars have been put to good use by providing additional public outreach, expanded efforts in forest policy; money for the SAF Foresters' Fund grants program; the National Leadership Academy; and our Certified Forester® and Forest Auditor programs.

Like many other nonprofit organizations, SAF has found that traditional revenue sources such as membership dues make up a smaller part of revenue needs each year. Over the past 10 years dues have gone from 50 percent to 35 percent of annual budgeted revenue.

The cost of doing business in such an environment requires that funding for quality programs must come from beyond normal revenue sources. Just as your forestry school, local charity, or religious organization requires an annual gift of support, SAF must now do the same. The benefit of this approach is that it helps maintain current dues levels and provides an opportunity for those who can better afford to give a little extra to their professional society.

This year we're incorporating giving as a normal part of funding SAF with the hope that the culture evident during the Centennial Campaign will respond favorably so that top-quality programs can be maintained. Our development program will have two components: an Annual Giving Campaign and a Planned Giving Campaign.

So what is the difference between the two?

Annual giving is based on what you believe you can contribute to the Society during a specific year. This could be in the form of a single payment or a pledge for payment over several months. It is the same as when your forestry school calls you and asks for a gift for that year.

Planned giving provides an opportunity for those of us who would like to give something extra but may not be able to afford it at the present. An example of opportunities addressing this desire would be a provision in your will or trust document that provides SAF with a gift on your death. This approach may be more favorable to you if you do not have family to support and would prefer that your assets be devoted to something you care about. Another example would be a life insurance policy with SAF as the partial or full beneficiary. Then there are those who may desire a tax deduction while still earning an annual income from the donated asset. A charitable remainder trust is one vehicle that would provide this opportunity.

There's a great deal more to a structured giving program than can be included in this brief introduction. Each of you will be receiving more information about either annual or planned giving in the next six months. I sincerely hope you view this new program as I do. It is a tremendous opportunity to give to something that has made a difference in your career and supports the profession you have chosen as your life's work.

Banzhaf is executive vice-president of the Society of American Foresters.

For information, contact SAF's Office of Planned Giving, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814-2198; (301) 897-8720, ext. 121; fax (301) 897-3690; giving@safnet.org.