All Planned Giving Options

Retirement Plan Gifts

Oxbow located on the Boone River
Boone River Oxbow Oxbow located on the Boone River © Lauren Nickell/TNC

Name The Nature Conservancy as a Beneficiary of Your Retirement Plan

Take care of nature and your heirs by making TNC a full or partial beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k) or other qualified retirement plan. You may be surprised to find that the taxes applied to your retirement plan assets are different than you imagined—in fact, using retirement assets to make your donation and leaving other assets to your heirs often enables you to give more to your heirs.

How It Works

Your financial advisor and TNC’s gift planning professionals can help you determine whether income from a gift plan or withdrawals from your retirement account would most benefit your heirs. For more information, contact one of our gift planning experts.

Here's the process:

  1. You name TNC as the beneficiary of a qualifying retirement plan through a beneficiary designation form, ensuring assets will not be included in your taxable estate. An extra step may be required to designate a 401(k).
  2. After your lifetime, the residue of your plan passes to TNC tax-free and to any other named heirs.


  • Escape both income AND estate tax levied on the residue left in your retirement account. Since TNC is a non-profit organization, we won't pay income tax on the distribution, nor will the gift be subject to estate tax. The entire amount comes to us, and your heirs will benefit from a reduced estate tax burden.
  • Continue to take withdrawals during your lifetime.
  • Change the beneficiary if your circumstances change.

More Information

Example: Assume you have $300,000 in an IRA and appreciated stock worth $250,000. You can see from this chart that your heirs actually benefit more from the lower valued gift of stock.

  IRA to Charity Stock to Heirs IRA to Heirs
Value of IRA $300,000 $250,000 $300,000
Less Income Tax (33%)   $0 $99,000
Remainder to Charity/Heirs $300,000 $250,000 $201,000
Total Tax $0 0% 33%

The income your heirs receive from your IRA is called “Income in Respect of Decedent,“ which is taxable upon transfer at the donor's highest tax rate. However, the gift of stock is taxable only when the heirs sell the shares, and only on the gain that occurred from the date of transfer—typically at the 15% tax rate. You may be able to give more to your heirs with less.

Donor Profile

  • Drs. Beth Salerno and Tod Ramseyer

    Meet Drs. Beth Salerno and Tod Ramseyer

    Drs. Beth Salerno and Tod Ramseyer listed TNC as a beneficiary of their retirement plans and life insurance policies. Read their story.


For more information, contact one of our gift planning experts, or explore other ways to give.