Virg Mouch didn’t start out thinking about philanthropic legacies. The idea came to her simply: through a love of the natural places in Northern Michigan.

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When Mouch got involved in conservation work and the protection of Torch Lake, she learned about the multi-faceted work of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, which provides funding, grants and scholarships prioritizing youth philanthropy, health and well-being, early childhood education and Great Lakes protection.

“Seeing the impact such an organization can have in so many different areas—and the singular focus on stewardship of endowments in perpetuity—inspired me to really become involved,” Mouch says.

As she moved into retirement, Mouch says she, like many, faced the important question of how to ensure sufficient resources during her lifetime, but also meet her desire of continuing her community impact long into the future.

That’s the beauty of legacy gifts. “Many of us are giving every year to one or more nonprofits,” says Alison Metiva, vice president, strategic engagement and programs. “Planned gifts, especially to an endowment, allow an individual’s annual giving to continue once they are gone.” How it works? Most planned gifts are done through simple language in your will that names the organization that will receive your future gift.

And it’s not just for the wealthy. Gifts can be designated as a percentage of remaining assets after other commitments—to family, for example—are met. “Legacy gifts of all sizes matter,” says Metiva. “Planned gifts allow us to be more effective because they build our endowment, the foundation from which we award grants and scholarships every year. Making plans for a future gift is an investment each of us can make today, that because of our model, will pay off for generations to come.”