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Legacy Giving

Most Incredible Continent on Earth

Volunteering at a zoo opened this legacy donor’s eyes to the wildlife wonders of Africa

Jane Fouser

Jane Fouser

Chicago native Jane Fouser developed her fascination with animals through frequent childhood visits to the Lincoln Park Zoo. She remembers wanting to volunteer there at a young age. After attending college and working in Michigan for several years, Jane returned to Chicago for an additional master's degree and still hoping to volunteer at the zoo.

After beginning her working life as a special education teacher, Jane eventually changed course to pursue a career in financial services. She took a job in a bank, trained in management and enjoyed a successful career as a manager in a financial software company.

Her wish to volunteer at the zoo finally came true after retirement. Jane joined Lincoln Park Zoo's Docent Program and also volunteered with the zoo's epidemiologist, Dr. Dominic Travis. It was here that her passion for Africa ignited. As a docent, she obtained extensive information about the animals, many of which were African species. Volunteering for Dr. Travis, Jane assisted on projects related to chimpanzees in Tanzania's Gombe National Park and to mountain gorillas with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda.

"What a wonderful opportunity to work for Dr. Travis," Jane recalls. "He is a natural teacher, and I learned so much."

It was the early 2000s when the worldwide population of mountain gorillas hovered at about 600. Thanks to AWF's work with partners in the area, the mountain gorilla population now is estimated to be more than 880. Dr. Travis worked to correlate specific health issues for individual mountain gorillas—respiratory, gastrointestinal and so on—with death incidence. This allowed veterinarians to better decide when to intervene with an unhealthy gorilla and when to let nature take its course.

Making the most of her time

It was through these volunteer activities that Jane was also able to participate in the zoo's travel program. She traveled to Kenya and Tanzania with one of the zoo's experienced veterinarians and to Botswana with the senior veterinarian. Since then, she has also visited Uganda (to see mountain gorillas, naturally!), Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

"The animals that I have seen in Africa often exist nowhere else on the Earth, and it was exciting to be able to go from providing project assistance for these incredible animals to actually seeing them in the wild," Jane shares. "I am particularly intrigued when watching species with rich group behaviors, such as the elephants."

While many of her friends are spending their time in Europe or on cruises, Jane has added Madagascar and Mozambique to her wish list. And although Africa is her primary love, she is planning a trip to Patagonia this spring. She has also visited Central America; the Galapagos Islands; Churchill, Manitoba, in Canada, to see polar bears; and the Madeleine Islands to see harp seals.

"I want to make the most of my time while I am physically able and not spend my time on a floating hotel!" she exclaims.

"Africa is the most incredible continent on Earth," Jane says. "I think that anyone who has ever been there can't come back without feeling changed, without understanding that mankind really did start there. There is just something that feels right about Africa."

Jane had been introduced to AWF in the mid-1990s by another zoo volunteer. She attended a presentation given by AWF and, she says, "It clicked." With her zoo experience, her interest in Africa's wildlife had increased, as well as her knowledge of the threats to those animals. With AWF, she discovered an organization that was working to modify those very threats. Jane has been a member ever since.

She has also included AWF in her estate plan.

"I looked at what I worked all of my life to accumulate and where it should go when I no longer needed it," explains Jane, who doesn't have kids or grandkids. "The relatives will get something, but I want what's left to do some good. I want to pay it forward."

She adds: "The animals and people of Africa are unique, and that is why AWF's work is so important. Zoos provide an important conservation message to educate people living in other locations than Africa. However, AWF provides programs to save the animals still in their natural habitats."

You, too, can follow in Jane's footsteps by supporting AWF with a gift in your estate plan. Contact Jessica Lindenfelser at 202-939-3322 or legacygifts@awf.org to learn how you can make preserving Africa's wildlife part of your legacy.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to 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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