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Continued Good: How to Write a Nonprofit into Your Will and Why You Should 

If you’ve ever wondered how you can sustain your legacy of good—even after you’re gone—writing a nonprofit into your will is a great way to continue to give back through your estate. But what about other forms of giving, such as living trusts and bequest giving? Let’s start by talking through all the definitions you’re going to need to know.  

Terms to Know

While a will and living trust are both estate planning tools, the main difference between them is how they are managed:  

  1. A will, a legal document detailing your assets (money, physical belongings, etc.) and how they should be managed after you pass, is implemented after death.  

  1. A living trust on the other hand places all of your assets into a trust fund that can be distributed to your heirs and beneficiaries while you are still alive.  

Other terms that you’ll want to be familiar with include:  

  • Legacy Giving – Contributions donors plan to give to a nonprofit after they die.  
  • Estate Planning – The process of creating a legal plan for what should happen to your estate (a term used to refer to all your assets combined) after your death.  
  • Bequest Giving – Similar to Legacy Giving, this is the donation (or “gifting”) of a large amount of money; often (but not always) after the donor has passed away.  

What Can You Donate to a Nonprofit In Your Will?

Money in the form of cash may seem like an obvious answer to this question, but did you know you can also donate stocks and bonds as well as add a nonprofit as a beneficiary to your life insurance and retirement funds? That’s right, your estate represents your total assets—not just the money you currently have in your savings account—so this is also money you have to donate if you so choose.   

You’re also able to donate real estate, such as your house or another piece of property, as well as personal property such as your vehicle, jewelry, and artwork. You can even include directions in your will for how you would like the nonprofit to use these assets. For example, do you want your vehicle to be gifted to a family in need of the nonprofit’s choosing, or do you want the nonprofit to sell your assets for cash? You have the flexibility to choose what and how you want to contribute; it’s your legacy, after all.  

Details You Need to Know

In order to write a nonprofit into your will, there are some official details you will need to have in hand. First and foremost, the full legal name, address, and EIN number of the nonprofit you are interested in donating to. You’ll also want to know exactly how you intend to donate to them. In other words, what is the nature of your gift (cash, property, stock investments, etc.), and how much do you plan to give? Make sure you’re very specific about the number of properties, amount of cash, and/or the percentage of your estate you want to contribute.   

From there, you’ll need to decide what kind of beneficiary you want the nonprofit to be: primary, secondary, residuary, or contingency. Most commonly, nonprofits are listed as residuary beneficiaries, meaning they receive a gift only after the primary beneficiaries have received their share of the estate. However, this is not the only method available. You might also want to choose:  

  • Primary Beneficiary –the nonprofit receives all the assets you assign them. 
  • Secondary Beneficiary—if your primary beneficiary passes away before you do, the nonprofit receives all assets intended for the primary beneficiary. 
  • Contingency Gift – the nonprofit is listed as a “backup plan” in case your beneficiaries pass away before you do. This form of giving can also be used as a contingency plan if certain stipulations you put in your will aren’t met. For example, you may say that, in order to receive your estate, your beneficiary must be sober, stay out of jail, etc. If these conditions are not met, your estate is then donated to the nonprofit you’ve chosen.   

If you have any questions or concerns about these details, make sure you speak with a qualified estate attorney or your financial advisor! 

How Do Gifts From Your Estate Benefit EarthShare?

Estate gifts are kind of a big deal! In general, estate gifts tend to be larger in value and size than one-time cash donations, which means that when you give a legacy gift to EarthShare, you are able to make a BIG and positive impact on the environment.  

Your gift also helps us plan for the future. Being able to know what donations will be coming to the organization now and in the future helps us identify more substantial timelines and goals for projects and initiatives, enabling us to do more good. Your contribution directly supports our mission of building a healthier, more sustainable planet for everyone, and enables positive work and change in your memory. That’s a legacy to be proud of.  

Ready to Get Started? Here Are Your Next Steps

  1. Contact our Development Director, Jessica Bellwoar, at to let her know your plans 

  1. Speak to a financial advisor or estate attorney to make sure you’ve fully addressed all relevant details 

  1. If you include EarthShare in your plans, please use the following legal name and tax identification number:  


Legal Name: EarthShare 

Address: 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006. 

Federal Tax Number/EIN: 52-1601960 

Please note that we at EarthShare are not lawyers and are not qualified to give you official legal advice. If you need additional support when it comes to charitable giving and estate planning, be sure to speak with a qualified legal professional!

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