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Betsy Wood drew a line in the sand

Betsy Wood drew a line in the sand

How her charitable gifts will keep working for peace

Betsy Wood

Betsy Wood with a photo of the peace demonstration that inspired similar actions worldwide to protest the invasion of Iraq.

Betsy Wood remembers the day she finished reading John Hersey's Hiroshima, a novel about the atomic bombing of Japan and the horrific suffering that resulted. The year was 1946, and she was in her freshman year of college. She read the last page, closed the book, and said, "I am a pacifist."

Betsy always had an interest in social justice. She was raised in Manhattan and went to the High School of Music and Art, now LaGuardia High School. In addition to volunteering in a low-income nursery school, she remembers singing Gilbert and Sullivan tunes with students from an area settlement house.

But it was when she left the concrete behind that she truly found her calling. She recalls a summer spent living communally and working on farms in the South. "That summer I had a real religious experience and got interested in raising food for hungry people around the world," she says. Coincidentally, a milk strike left the mayor of New York with some funds to distribute, and he offered scholarships for students studying agriculture. Betsy received one, studying at Cornell and going on to work for a co-op in Berkeley, California, where she did marketing and consumer education.

But her passion for peace stayed with her. Through the years she participated in massive marches, from the civil rights era to the Million Mom March against Guns in 2000. One day a neighbor called and invited her to join an unusual effort. It was just prior to the invasion of Iraq, and the group went to the ocean, disrobed, and spelled the word "peace" in the sand with their bodies. The photo, taken from a nearby cliff, would travel the world and inspire 160 other groups to take similar actions, from New York skyscrapers to the Alaskan tundra.

When Betsy decided to invest in a charitable gift annuity, it only made sense to look for an organization whose values reflected her own. "My major thought in selecting AFSC was the long-term insistence on peace and nonviolence," she says. After setting up a charitable annuity for herself, she made additional arrangements for a family member. She feels better knowing he is provided for, and that eventually the remainder will be used in service to something she has always worked for: peace.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the American Friends Service Committee 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 devise and bequeath to the American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (tax ID #23-1352010) (Insert amount of gift or insert the word "all" or the percentage of the estate) to be used for its general purposes.

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 AFSC 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 AFSC 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 AFSC 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 AFSC where you agree to make a gift to AFSC 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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