Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, Michigan. © Richard Thompson

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Chris and Kate Mathews put their IRAs to work for nature

Chris and Kate Mathews
Chris and Kate Mathews Chris and Kate Mathews at The Bungle Bungles National Park in Australia © Courtesy Chris and Kate Mathews

Chris and Kate Mathews

When longtime Conservancy members Chris and Kate Mathews began to take their required minimum distributions, they decided to directly distribute the extra income from their IRAs to The Nature Conservancy.  


Chris and Kate Mathews have supported The Nature Conservancy for almost four decades, but their love for nature began even earlier. 

For Chris, nature is part of his family history: His grandfather, a Curator of Birds at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, and his grandmother founded Conservationists United for Long Island, which supported Rachel Carson’s efforts to ban DDT. Chris’s love of natural environments took hold at age nine, when his father took him backpacking in Vermont.  

“For some reason,” says Chris, “memories of experiences in natural surroundings are far more vivid than those of even the most exquisite human-created environments. Memories of light from a full moon during a Grand Canyon backpacking trip are much clearer than recollections of visits to the Louvre or the Sistine Chapel.” 

Kate’s passion for the environment was sparked by Chris when they were married. They moved to Tucson when their children were four and six, and within a year the family of four had backpacked in Arizona’s magnificent desert canyons and in Washington’s old-growth forests and rugged mountain ranges. Kate was hooked, and she and Chris decided they would help ensure that unique, awe-inspiring landscapes would remain intact for generations. Today the couple supports conservation work in their home state of Oregon, where they enjoy birding and rafting.

Quote: Chris Mathews

Directing our IRA distributions directly to the Conservancy allows us to use some of our income to support what we care most about.


Chris and Kate joined The Nature Conservancy in 1977. “We support the Conservancy because of its effectiveness in preserving varied habitats while optimizing use of its resources,” said Chris. “It’s a cost-effective organization with well-defined projects and conservation goals.” 

Today Chris and Kate support the Conservancy by contributing through their IRAs. For them, this makes economic sense and furthers their goal to leave the world a better place. 

 “At our age we are required to take minimum distributions from our IRAs,” Chris said. “Directing these distributions directly to the Conservancy allows us to use some of our income to support what we care most about.” 

If you are 70 ½ or older, you too can use your IRA to fund a charitable gift without paying income tax on the withdrawal. This type of gift allows you to make an immediate impact on critical conservation projects. 

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