Lois Braun: Honoring Her Past and the Future with a Charitable Gift Annuity to Support UCS
Lois Braun is a member of an agricultural research team working to develop perennial crops that can thrive in the upper Midwest, as an alternative to the environmentally destructive corn and soybeans grown on a massive scale in the region—including in Minnesota, where she lives. Braun’s work centers on the hazelnut, a woody shrub that greens early in the spring and stays green late into the fall—converting solar energy into tasty nuts while preventing soil erosion with its deep root system.
“My work is very slow, painstaking plant breeding,” she says.
The hazelnuts she studies have a breeding cycle of 17 years, so it’s unsurprising that Braun, at the age of 53, has spent a lot of time thinking far ahead. When both of her parents passed over the last few years, leaving her with a cash inheritance, she immediately thought about the future: her own and others’.
Braun’s parents were missionaries, a doctor and a nurse, who raised her in Ghana, West Africa, and rural Tennessee. Staunch environmentalists, they were also frugal spenders and generous givers. Eying her inheritance, Braun realized she didn’t need the money—yet.
“I inherited my parents’ frugality,” she says. “I have significant savings. I thought, ‘I need to do something with this money that will be true to my values and honor them.’ ”
After carefully weighing her options, Braun, a longtime supporter of the Union of Concerned Scientists, chose to invest part of her inheritance in a deferred flexible charitable gift annuity with UCS. She’ll receive a tax deduction for her gift this year. And when she nears retirement, she’ll have the choice of accepting mostly tax-free income from the gift at a certain age or deferring it even further until she’s ready to take it.
“I’m younger than most people who do this kind of thing,” Braun admits. “What I like about it is the fact that it’s not [a source of income] that I’m going to deplete.”
Braun also appreciates that her contribution will fund UCS’s work for a healthier planet and safer world—as opposed to the potential pitfalls of investing money elsewhere.
“What is the stock market doing with your money while you wait to use it?” Braun says. “Are they building a society that you’re going to want to live in when you’re retired? Part of my quality of life when I am old will depend on having a healthy, educated, happy population of younger people. And it will depend on having a healthy environment and a stable climate.”
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