Natural Gifts

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Published on: Nov. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

deliver. The Foundation supports conservation programs by obtaining funds from other sources. In recent years, this added money has helped the Conservation Department stretch available funds for projects such as the Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus and land restoration. Planned giving through the Conservation Heritage Foundation is one way Missourians can be partners in projects they especially want to see accomplished.”

Priorities and Planned Giving

Freudenberg said the reasons for planned giving are highly personal. For some, the love of a place or activity provides the motivation. For others, it may be a desire to give back to an activity, such as hunting, that has provided a lifetime of fulfillment.

Whatever the reason, said Freudenberg, every gift should be based on careful forethought. People who rush into decisions about donations, bequests and other gifts risk losing potential benefits to both themselves and their favorite project.

“Planned giving means carefully assessing your assets and looking for the best way to structure a donation,” said Freudenberg. “Assets can be tangible things, such as cash, land, buildings, stocks or bonds, or something that is intangible, such as a conservation easement. Each one has a different set of considerations that should be discussed with a legal or financial advisor.”

The MCHF has a variety of ways for donors to contribute to conservation, each with unique benefits. One arrangement is a life estate, where a landowner can reap the benefits of donating property for conservation while continuing to live on and retain control of the land as long as he or she lives. The Foundation receives the property upon the donor’s death.

Another strategy is to donate funds for a charitable remainder trust. Under this arrangement, donors receive payments from the trust as long as they live. The money in the trust passes to the Foundation for conservation upon the donor’s death. MCHF has invested funds with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for assistance with deferred giving plans.

“If you watch the Foundation’s work, you can’t help but be impressed by two things,” said Wood. “First of all, many of the projects provide seed money—initial funding to get something started. An example is the new [anti] vandalism reward program, similar to Operation Game Thief and Operation Forest Arson. The other thing that is notable is that a large number of the projects involve partnerships with every kind of conservation entity you can imagine. That multiplies the benefits to conservation.”

“The Conservation Heritage Foundation provides a way for the little guy to play a part in big things,” said former Conservation Commissioner Randy Herzog.

Former Commissioner Anita B. Gorman agreed. “By donating what they can for things that are important to them, anyone can make a real difference. Far from getting lost in a sea of donations, these are the sea.”

MCHF Achievements

Since its formation nine years ago, the MCHF has accumulated an impressive list of achievements, including:

  • Bringing together 13 groups to raise $256,000 and restore 770 acres of wetland in the upper Truman Lake watershed.
  • Funding the creation of more than 200 outdoor classrooms and buying outdoor equipment, such as canoes and fishing gear.
  • Funding disabled-accessible hunting and wildlife viewing blinds and fishing piers.
  • Organizing outdoor skills camps for urban youths.
  • Raising $4.3 million for the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City.
  • Purchasing electronic surveillance equipment to deter vandalism at conservation areas.
  • Funding habitat work for grassland birds, such as prairie chickens and bobwhite quail, as well as other wildlife.

Getting Involved

You can make contributions or receive more information by contacting the Foundation at MCHF, P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366, call (573) 634-2080 or (800) 227-1488, fax (573) 751-4467, or e-mail

Earmark Projects

Missourians who want to support conservation but don’t know where to start can choose from a number of categories set up by the MCHF. Contributing to one of these allows donors to focus their contribution in one area.

One of these exciting “earmark” programs is the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund. This money is available to help landowners with stream conservation.

An example of the program at work took place in Miller County. The county commission’s efforts to stabilize a road crossing on Little Tavern Creek unintentionally destroyed fish habitat and a traditional swimming hole. It also caused the bridge approach to flood during heavy rains, making road problems worse. Money from the Stream Stewardship Program helped fix the problem, while at the same time restoring habitat for the endangered Niangua darter.

Other earmarked-gift categories include:

  • Land and Coldwater Stream Acquisition
  • Nature Centers
  • Habitat Restoration and Conservation Area Improvements
  • Kids Fishing and Youth Hunting Events
  • Missouri Stream Teams
  • Natural Resource Research Projects
  • Wildlife Enforcement and Hunter Education Programs
  • Anti-Vandalism Reward Fund

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