Endowment Giving
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Endowment Giving

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About Endowment Giving

Fundamental to the Indianapolis Zoo’s long-term financial security and stability is a healthy endowment fund, the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund.

Because the Zoo does not receive any direct tax support, the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund serves to protect against uncontrollable drops in the Zoo’s earned income, while allowing it to continue the vital programming that fulfills its animal conservation mission.

An endowment gift is foremost a legacy, an expression of the passions and beliefs that guide an individual, a couple, a family or an organization. It is a testament to the donor’s enduring support for the organizations and programs for which he cares the most. An endowment gift also powerfully conveys the donor’s commitment to the future.

Stewarding the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund and the legacies of the Zoo’s endowment donors is the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund Committee, providing oversight of all endowment fund investment and management. Vital to its oversight that the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund remains a permanent fund is ensuring that its principal is never spent, while investment income is spent in support of the Zoo.  The IZFFC has a long-term time horizon for investments with the philosophy that high levels of risk are to be avoided.  The primary objective is to achieve a total return, net of fees, equal to or greater than spending and inflation.

Accordingly, the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund and the Zoo’s endowment campaign serve to:

  • Underwrite and advance the Zoo’s pivotal work in conservation.
  • Improve and support its exhibits and enhance visitor experience within them.
  • Support and advance the Zoo’s comprehensive educational and community programming.
  • Secure long-term stability against uncontrollable drops in earned income.

Gifts of any amount and of any kind may be directed to the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund.

Such gifts may be donated during your lifetime, but you may also designate this fund as a beneficiary of your estate plan, retirement plan, insurance policy, etc. You may take great satisfaction in knowing that your gift will provide everlasting support to the Zoo and its noble mission of animal conservation.

The Indianapolis Prize Endowment Fund serves to protect the future of the Indianapolis Prize program.

We continuously campaign to promote the ever more critical conservation status of threatened and endangered wildlife and raise awareness of the many dangers that remain in the wild. By honoring individuals who have sacrificed the most, the Prize brings global attention to the need for animal conservation efforts.

Whether through a structured or outright gift, we would be happy to work with you and/or your organization to help establish your conservation legacy and fulfill your charitable goals.

Learn more here.

If you have an affinity for a particular Zoo program or department, you may establish and name a fund that would provide endowed, perpetual support to that general area.

Current named endowed funds support curatorial programs for the elephants, tigers, and cheetahs; enrichment programs for animals and life science staff; and the veterinary science program. Named endowed funds require a minimum contribution of $50,000, which may be funded during your lifetime, through a planned gift, or both.

The Indianapolis Zoo and its talented staff are proud to serve as the leaders of noteworthy curatorial, veterinary, conservation and education programs.

If you desire to endow a certain area at the Zoo above and beyond the support through a named endowed fund, you may consider the following:

$2.5 Million – Endowment Executive Position
$1 Million – Endowed Chair
$250,000 – Endowed Fellowship
$50,000 – Named Endowed Fund

** Gifts for endowment for any specific restricted purposes such as a program, facility, or exhibit must be equal to an amount necessary to produce sufficient income to fulfill the donor’s purposes over an indefinite period of time. Endowment fund calculations shall assume a spending rate consistent with the endowment fund spending rate approved by the Zoo’s Board of Trustees, with the balance invested to perpetuate the fund. Appreciation of the gift principal may be spent for the purposes of the fund unless otherwise restricted by the donor.

All endowment gifts and naming opportunities must comply with the Zoo’s charitable gift policies and are subject to trustee approval.

Join Some of Our Most Dedicated Donors

Tombi Animal and Keeper Enrichment Fund

Zoo friends and supporters Fred and Beth Cate have loved the Indianapolis Zoo for a long time. Beth has been a Zoo volunteer for over a dozen years and a trustee since 2004; Fred photographically captures Zoo animals with clarity and power.

Fred and Beth have always had a favorite, however: Tombi, one of the Zoo’s adult female African elephants and a fixture of the internationally regarded elephant conservation effort. Wanting to perpetuate the Zoo’s work with Tombi and animals like her, they created the Tombi Animal and Keeper Enrichment Fund to “enrich the lives of animals in the Zoo’s collection.” Their innovative Fund is targeted at increasing the knowledge and skill of animal caregivers; enhancing exhibits and holding areas so animals can be more mentally and physically active; and addressing the comfort and special needs of older animals.

Life Science and Veterinary Science staff members submit annual proposals in the program’s priority areas, with decisions made by the Zoo’s animal care leadership. This guarantees the Tombi Fund’s continued relevance, and the resulting investments will go directly to making the Zoo a better place for animals – including Tombi.

As recently shared by Fred and Beth, “We created the Tombi Animal & Keeper Enrichment Fund as a way to advance the Zoo’s mission to conserve wild animals and places, by enhancing the well-being of both the animals – including our beloved elephant Tombi (the world’s most beautiful and talented elephant) – who serve as the Zoo’s public ambassadors for species and ecosystems, and the keepers whose expertise and dedication directly symbolize our human commitment to conservation. Particularly as educators, we are excited to start a fund that will help our keepers enhance, share and apply their professional knowledge – for example, by funding field research and conference travel – and will also help provide innovative training tools, toys, and treats to enrich the daily lives of our animals and better our understanding of their needs.”

Luenz Pachyderm Fund

For Mike and Pam Luenz, elephants – especially the elephants of the Indianapolis Zoo – hold a special place. For starters, they had contact with Indian elephants while living for three years in India. More recently, they have visited behind-the-scenes extensively with the Zoo’s African elephants.

At home, every room is decorated with at least one elephant statue or painting, including a painting created by history-making Zoo elephant Kubwa, the first African elephant in the world to give birth to three calves successfully conceived through artificial insemination (herd mate Ivory is the second African elephant to accomplish that feat).

Recently, learning of the Zoo’s endowment campaign, the Luenzs undertook a review of their estate plan. They told us, “We were thrilled to discover that we could establish our own endowment fund and also were able to name it and provide direction for its use.”

Elephants were clearly a natural for them. Working with the Zoo’s staff, they designed the Luenz Pachyderm Fund to support the Zoo’s elephant program. While they initially planned to activate the Fund through their estate, they found themselves so excited that they intend to start funding it through outright gifts.

“Working with the Zoo made everything very simple,” Mike and Pam note, “and procedures are in place to begin funding whenever we wish. We are delighted to be helping the Zoo in its important work in animal conservation and education, and creating a specific endowment really targeted our donation to our particular interests.”

Let's Get Started

A gift of any amount may be directed to the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund. Examples of outright and planned gifts that may be used include:

Outright Gifts

  • Cash
  • Publicly traded securities
  • Closely held securities
  • Real estate
  • Other property

Planned Gifts

  • Bequests
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plan designations (IRAs; 401(k)s)
  • Gift Annuities
  • Charitable trusts

Endowment gifts are commonly established through an array of planned gifts arrangements that benefit the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund and the donor. The most commonly used planned gifts include bequests through a will or trust, or designating the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund as beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement plan.

The Details
  • Bequest Language

    The following language may be used to provide for the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund through a bequest in your will:
    I hereby give and bequeath to THE INDIANAPOLIS ZOO, Indianapolis, Indiana, the sum of __________Dollars ($________), or _____ percent (____%) of my property and estate, to be directed to the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund, the Zoo’s general endowment fund.

  • Beneficiary Language

    To designate the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund as a beneficiary of an insurance policy or retirement plan, please direct as follows:
    Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund, a general endowment fund of the Indianapolis Zoo

  • Charitable Gift Policies

    The Zoo’s Charitable Gift Policies also provide helpful guidance with the creation of endowment gift funds, as well as the parameters to consider the acceptance of particular gift assets.

  • For More Information

    For more information on how you may benefit from a planned gift while establishing your legacy, please visit the Zoo’s planned giving website.

If you would like to learn more how you may establish your legacy by supporting the Indianapolis Zoo and animal conservation, or if you would like to let us know that you have already provided for the Indiana Zoological Foundation Fund, please complete the contact form below.