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Community Profile: Paying it Forward, with Bill W.

A new endowment fund is just one of the ways the Minneapolis Parks Foundation is working to serve a city of parks-lovers.

Where will your money do the most good after you’re gone? “Like most people, I hadn’t really thought about that question too much,” says Bill W., 63. But when his financial planner suggested he pull together a list of nonprofits to include in his estate plan, he started to reflect on a lifetime of memories in Minneapolis and noticed a familiar theme.

“The parks have always been a part of my life, and they bring so much good to other people,” he says. “Back in the eighties, I got hooked on rollerblading, and I bet I did that [Bde Maka Ska], Harriet, Lake of the Isles circuit five nights a week. Even now, just going for a drive around the parkways in the winter or taking my mountain bike to Boom Island is always a good way to spend the day. It came into my head one day that giving to the Minneapolis parks would be a good place to leave a little bit of myself behind, so I picked up the phone and got it started.”

This year, Bill became one of a growing number of parks lovers who are including the Minneapolis Parks Foundation in their estate plans—a circle of donors that’s more than doubled in recent years. In fact, options for making a planned gift are now better than ever thanks to a new endowment fund launched in 2018 with the help of the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations.

“They provide technical assistance to small nonprofits like the Parks Foundation, which gives our donors access to their expertise if they have questions about how they’d like to structure their estate,” says Jennifer Downham, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s chief development officer. “It gives our donors confidence that regardless of what’s going on in the political landscape, or with changes in leadership, or evolutions of mission, that there’s a structure in place to honor the original intent of the gift.”

For parks lovers who want to ensure their contribution will keep working for the next generation of parks users, there’s no better way to leave a legacy than to make a planned gift to the Parks Foundation’s endowment.

Visit our Leave a Legacy page, or email Jennifer Downham, Chief Development Officer, at to learn more about the Parks Foundation’s Endowment. Donors who name the Parks Foundation in their estate plans become members of the Heritage Oak Society.

This article originally appeared in our 2018-2019 Annual Report, The Promise of Parks.

Featured image: Courtesy of MPRB.

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