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Legacy Giving

Spotlight on AWF Member Candace Ritz


Candace Ritz is not your average 29-year-old. A busy financial planner at a corporate law firm, Ritz has just bought her first home, volunteers for animal welfare organizations all over the world, and is now starting up her own eco-friendly greeting-card business.

She is also one of the youngest members of AWF's Kilimanjaro Society, a group of supporters who have chosen to extend their caring and support for Africa's wildlife and wild lands beyond their lifetimes.

What prompted this young professional to join this esteemed group of mostly older wildlife enthusiasts?

Ritz sought out AWF after a stay at a safari lodge in South Africa changed her life. The lodge, in addition to offering an amazing safari experience, worked with and benefited a nearby community. Ritz befriended a member of staff and learned from him about the relationship between wildlife conservation and community development.

"We talked about how important [the lodge] was to people in the community," recalls Ritz. "How it created jobs and how it created a strong sense of community, especially in preserving the land and the wildlife. It made the community viable by bringing in jobs."

When she returned home, Ritz began looking for a conservation organization focused on Africa which understood that communities must be part of the dialogue and part of the solution in order to protect wildlife long-term.

"I decided I was going to find an organization dedicated to Africa that doesn't sacrifice people's needs for the well-being of animals," says Ritz. "I saw how important that connection was firsthand. People need to be able to care for their family and make a living just the same as anywhere. I set out to find an organization that understood that, and I found the African Wildlife Foundation."

While many people are inspired to join AWF after seeing Africa's wildlife firsthand, Ritz's choice to become a legacy giver set her apart. She said the decision was much easier than she thought it would be.

"I literally picked up the phone and called. I explained my situation, and said I wanted to leave a legacy gift to the African Wildlife Foundation and asked what I needed to do."

Although there are different ways to leave a legacy gift, Ritz opted to designate AWF a beneficiary in her Will. A planner by nature, Ritz concedes she is the exception among people her age. "Many people don't want to contemplate the finality of their existence," she says. "They also think estate planning is complicated and expensive, when in fact, it's usually fairly easy to do."

To Candace, the alternative is even scarier. "Think about it, do you want to risk having the dollars you've worked so hard for go to something you don't believe in?" she asks. "I've worked so hard for every dollar I've earned, and I want to it be used for something that is important to me, something that will truly make a difference," she says.

Ritz is already making a difference and in more ways than one. In addition to being an active AWF member, she volunteers with several animal rescue organizations around the world, from a mom and daughter duo rescuing street dogs in Romania to a wildlife rescue team in Zimbabwe in need of veterinary supplies. And recently, Ritz founded a stationery company called Furkids, Inc. (, which will sell eco-friendly greeting cards to raise money for a network of animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations, dubbed the Furkids family. While the Furkids online store is still under development, Ritz has already arranged for local artists to design the greeting cards.

At home, Ritz lavishes her love of animals on her canine housemates — Asia, Bruno, Maxwell, and Oscar — rescued from a backyard breeder, a puppy mill, animal control, and an abandoned junkyard, respectively. Oscar the junkyard dog survived for weeks on scraps before Ritz rescued him.

"I picked him up, and he's acted as if he died and went to heaven ever since," she beams.

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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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