Helen ShumanConservationist takes preservation seriously.
Shuman Foundation for the Environment
By the time Helen Shuman, 57, contemplated the sale of 100 acres of undeveloped but prime real estate, her future was secure. As a successful entrepreneur, she had built a flourishing chain of flower and gift shops. As a staunch conservationist, she had fought for years to preserve the green spaces and natural habitats she loved.
When she learned that her prized 100 acres might become part of a regional airport, Helen had mixed feelings. She realized she was facing a $3 million windfall, and a $2.7 million capital gain.
Helen was determined to make the best of it. She had never planned to sell the land and had adequate savings for retirement. So the savvy businesswoman asked her professional advisor about channeling the proceeds to charity rather than to taxes and her estate. Helen hoped the money could benefit the environment in some way, perhaps through a private foundation.
With guidance from her advisor, Helen weighed her options.While she could deed her property to a private foundation, she would be able to deduct only its cost basis—not its fair market value.
But Helen’s advisor told her about an option far more advantageous: deeding the property to a supporting organization with her local community foundation. The community foundation would handle the real estate sale, with all net proceeds funding the new Shuman Foundation for the Environment. She would be part of a board of trustees and help make grant decisions, but the community foundation would handle tax investments, reporting, bookkeeping and grantmaking, and correspondence.
By deeding the property to the community foundation, Helen would be able to maximize her charitable tax deductions (fair market value, up to 30 percent of adjusted gross income for gifts to public charities) in the first year and carry the unused portions over to subsequent years. Future gifts to the Shuman Foundation for the Environment would qualify for the higher public charity deductions as well (gifts of real estate to private foundations are limited to cost basis, up to 20 percent of adjusted gross income).
The choice was clear. Helen was pleased to learn she’d have instant access to expert environmental grantmakers and nonprofit organizations. She would supply passion and ideas for using her gift, but the grantmaking team would be available to share their experience, research, and due diligence. With their support, her job as board chair would be easier and more enjoyable. The community foundation also offered help in setting strategy, researching potential recipients, and even organizing meetings. Helen would be part of a board of trustees and help make grant decisions, but the community foundation would handle tax investments, reporting, bookkeeping and grantmaking, and correspondence.
Today Helen is chair of the Shuman Foundation for the Environment, a supporting organization that will benefit the environment for years to come. She stays involved at a level that is comfortable for her—applying the know-how she’s honed in the business world to do community good. By partnering with her community foundation, Helen was able to preserve her assets, conserve her time, and protect her beloved environment.
Any conservationist would be proud.