You don’t have to be rich to leave an estate gift - Fox 2 News Headlines

You don’t have to be rich to leave an estate gift

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As we enter the season of giving, many people consider how year-end charitable donations can benefit their favorite nonprofits as well as their own income taxes.

More than 85 percent of Americans donate to charity while they are alive, but less than six percent leave an estate plan that benefits these same charities, according to the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning. Most people believe they do not have an "estate" large enough to create a legacy gift.

Fortunately for all concerned, they are mistaken. The Planned Giving Roundtable of Southeast Michigan is working to educate the public about the impact that private sector gifts can make to mission-driven nonprofits in an era of dwindling corporate support. Roundtable members are development professionals from various nonprofits and include attorneys, financial advisers and CPAs.

"It seems the word "impact" defines itself in the minds of many as something on the order of, just for example, $100,000," explains Bill Winkler, Roundtable communications director. "We believe impact can be defined in many ways and want to change the prevailing view that it is something only the wealthy can do."
Consider Peggy Owens. 

She was born Peggy Joan O'Connor in 1933, one of 13 children.  Orphaned at 6, she  went to live in the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Home, where she stayed until she graduated high school at 18. She credited the sisters at the home with helping her achieve her life's goals and, when she died in July 2013 at age 80, her legacy gift established the Peggy J. Owens Memorial Scholarship for Exceptional Women at St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center. This fund will provide $3,000 to a GED student at the center to continue her post-high school education.

Consider Mary Okray, a charismatic community volunteer. There is never a day that Mary is not willing to donate her time. Mary has been volunteering for the American Heart Association for over a decade.  She supports their mission in many ways and optimizes the definition of "impact." She has made an impact by supporting AHA events, by educating others about the signs of a heart attack and by inviting others to join the cause.  Mary's impact will continue when her life is over because she included the American Heart Association in her estate plans. It doesn't take much to make a lasting impact on organizations you believe in.
As you know there are thousands of these stories.
The Roundtable members would be pleased to discuss your readers' ability to make a legacy gift much like Mrs. Owens' or Mary Okray, and how to make those gifts a reality. We would be happy to put you in contact with families with stories of generosity, or with a representative from a nonprofit who could address the impact gifts such as these have on charitable organizations.

The Roundtable's services are free.

"Supporting your favorite organizations through a bequest or other legacy gift is possible even though you may think you can't," Winkler says. "It's a discovery process that will make you feel very good about what you have done to support your favorite charity long after you can't do it in person."

Bill Winkler is available for interviews and can provide contact information for donors and organizations. Contact him at (734) 358-1817. Or go to


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