Natural Gifts

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

finally consented to let their names be released so others could learn from their example.

“Donations don’t have to be enormous to be important,” said Freudenberg. “By putting money into the Foundation each year as the Berriers have done, you can build up quite a sum over time.”

Giving as Thanks

Mary Bronstein was a lover of wildflowers and a frequent visitor to Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center. After her death, her husband, Robert, wanted to show his appreciation for all the many happy hours she had spent at the Kirkwood facility. It seemed natural to set up an endowment to care for wildflower plantings around the nature center building. Interest from the trust pays for refurbishing the flower beds each spring and putting them to bed in the fall.

What is the MCHF?

Separate from the Conservation Department, but dedicated to the same goals, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation was formed in 1997. It is governed by a board of directors consisting of business and community leaders who have a history of conservation involvement. The board also includes several former Conservation Commissioners, officers of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and retired Conservation Department staffers. They are responsible for ensuring that people’s donations are used as they were intended.

Citizens set up the MCHF to do things a government agency cannot. The foundation can move quickly on real estate purchases. It also can guarantee that contributions will be used for specific projects. Furthermore, accepting donations of land and other real estate is much simpler for the Foundation than for the Conservation Department, as the Browns’ example demonstrates.

As a nonprofit group organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code, the MCHF offers tax advantages otherwise not available to donors. Gifts to the Foundation can be particularly advantageous under certain circumstances.

For example, when someone donates stocks or bonds, as former Conservation Commissioner and Foundation President Howard Wood did, the Foundation can sell the securities and put all the proceeds to work for conservation. If Wood had sold the stock, worth $500,000, and donated the money, he would have had to pay capital gains taxes on any increase in value the stocks showed since purchase, decreasing the value of his gift.

Finally, the MCHF can do things that are beyond government’s financial means.

“Missourians are extremely supportive of conservation,” said Freudenberg, “but they also have very high expectations of conservation. People are asking more than the conservation sales tax can

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