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Legacy Giving

A Passion—and Worry—for Africa

Sally DavidsonAn "intense" first safari sparked Sally Davidson's love for Africa, but her worry for its wildlife prompted her to become an AWF legacy donor

Growing up in Colorado and California, Sally Davidson cared deeply for animals and was often concerned for their welfare. Circuses in particular bothered her, because she didn't like the way the animals were being used, and she worried about how they were being treated as they were transported from place to place.

Davidson maintained this passion for animals, ecology and the environment throughout her childhood, and as an adult based in Washington DC, she has served on numerous boards in keeping with her passions, including the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Rainforest Trust, Nature and Culture International, and American Rivers. But Davidson's first experience with Africa actually did not take place until long after she was grown. In the late 1980s, the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology was offering a safari to Tanzania to witness the great migration, led by famed mammalogist Richard Estes. As soon as they learned about the trip, Davidson and her late husband Stuart knew that this was a trip not to be missed. What better introduction could there be to the wonders of the continent?

Surrounded by wildlife

The safari was far from luxurious. They pitched their own pup tents and simple meals were cooked on the back of the Bedford truck that was the group's mode of transport. But what the safari lacked in amenities, it made up for in depth. The presence of Richard Estes, along with a gifted ornithologist who happened to be a part of their group, gave the Davidsons a unique insight into the wildlife that surrounded them.

And surround them it did-from every direction! Every day, their small group would travel farther and farther into the Serengeti. Davidson fondly recalls: "We pitched our tents very close to the truck, and were told not to stray too far if we got up in the night! My husband and I would lie quietly in the dark, listening to the nightime sounds of nature, guessing at what animals might be roaming just beyond our canvas tent. We could always tell the lions by their heavy breathing."

The migration itself was awe inspiring and the highlight of their trip. Wildebeest as far as the eye could see came from everywhere, in the tens of thousands, and would completely surround the truck. This, along with the unique thrill of spending a night in the Nogorogoro Crater-an experience that is no longer possible today-sparked Davidson's profound love for Africa and its wildlife.

It was shortly after this trip, when she was looking for organizations that were protecting "this treasure of a continent," that Davidson first encountered AWF. And just as her emotional investment in Africa has grown deeper over the years, through repeat visits and learning all she could about the continent, so, too, has her support of AWF.

While the trip to Tanzania was by far the most intense she has taken, Davidson has since returned to Africa six times (staying in much more amenable lodges). She has visited Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa (twice), Botswana and Namibia, where she spent some time with her friend Laurie Marker and Marker's organization, the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Two of Davidson's trips were safaris led by AWF, including one to Uganda and Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas. The gorillas, she says, were thrilling. They took five mountain gorilla treks during that trip and saw gorillas on every trek. Although they had to stand a requisite distance away from the mountain gorillas, the gorillas would eventually come within close range, interacting with each other in complete disregard of the humans observing them.

"To me, that trip was also very poignant, because despite the gorillas' protected status, their habitat is in real danger of being further encroached upon by human activity, through illegal logging and agriculture," Davidson observes. "With half of the Ugandan population being under the age of 14, I worry about the competition between humans and gorillas for such limited space. Their existence is so fragile."

Accompanied by real worry

Indeed, Davidson's love for Africa is always accompanied by real worry-not just for gorillas but for all of the animals being poached "for nonsensical reasons," she says.

She is devastated by the scope of the poaching crisis for elephant ivory, rhino horn and even lions for their bones, which serve as a stand-in for the tiger bones so prized in Asian cultures.

"I read an article the other week that said there are people who actually purchase wildlife parts because they believe it is a guaranteed investment. They are actually counting on the extinction of these species-counting on it!" Davidson exclaims. "This absolutely infuriates me. This is why I believe so strongly in AWF's work, and I am glad there are other organizations out there, either working with AWF or independently, to find solutions to this enormous problem."

Though she is busy as chairman of the board of Clyde's Restaurant Group, which was founded by Stuart, Davidson has made sure to support AWF with generous annual donations for nearly 30 years. She has also included a legacy gift for AWF in in her estate plans.

"I really hope that with education and awareness, more young people will join the ranks of AWF's membership and eventually become major donors," says Davidson. "I will support AWF for as long as I can, both as an annual donor and through my estate. It's really important to me that this work continue beyond my lifetime. I encourage anyone who wants Africa's wildlife to endure for future generations to make a legacy gift." -Jessica Lindenfelser

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the African Wildlife Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to the African Wildlife Foundation [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to AWF or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to AWF as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to AWF as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and AWF where you agree to make a gift to AWF and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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