Individual Giving

Ways of Giving

There are as many ways of giving to the Seneca Park Zoo Society as there are donors.

The information on these pages will lead you through three questions that will help meet your gift desires.  This discussion is meant to be an introduction to methods for designing a gift that best suits your financial needs and meets your charitable objectives.

As you consider the information presented here, the Zoo Society encourages you to consult your legal counsel, accountant, and/or estate planner to determine which method of giving is best for you.  All gifts other than gifts of cash and appreciated securities are subject to approval by the Board of Trustees of the Seneca Park Zoo Society.

How would you like your gift to be used?

Let the Zoo Society decide

Unrestricted Gifts

When you do not restrict the use of your gift, the Seneca Park Zoo Society gains the flexibility to direct your gift toward an area of need.  Unrestricted gifts help to fuel our education and conservation programs, assist in the development of new programs, and keep the Zoo as a place where people of all walks of life come together to be connected with wildlife and wild places.

It is the policy of the Seneca Park Zoo Society to direct 75% of each unrestricted bequest in excess of $25,000 to the Zoo Society’s general endowment funds, which provide a source of general operating support to the Zoo Society.

The Zoo accepts matching company gifts with individual donations.


Annual membership fees help support the Zoo’s conservation and education programs, as well as our operating costs.

Partners in Conservation

The generosity and commitment of our Partners in Conservation allow the Zoo to continue to be the natural place for families while building on its role in conservation leadership.

Annual Fund

Make a donation to the Zoo’s Annual Fund, which supports our operations and future development.

Buy a Brick

Leave your mark at the Zoo by purchasing a commemorative brick.

You will receive a certificate with your custom brick inscription within 7-10 business days of your order.

Bricks are laid three times a year, between April and November. We will contact you when your brick is placed.

Honors and Memorials

Commemorate a loved one with a gift to Seneca Park Zoo Society. If you’re interested in making a donation in honor of a loved one, you can do so over the phone with a credit card, through the mail with a check payable to Seneca Park Zoo Society, or in person with any payment method you’d like. We will notify the family that a gift has been made by you, although we do not disclose the amount. If you would prefer, you may also remain anonymous. Call 585.754.9344 or email us.

A particular project of interest

Restricted Gifts

Many people who give to the Zoo Society request that their contributions be used toward a specified program or project.  Whether your gift is an outright gift, a pledge, or a bequest, you have the option of deciding how you would like your financial support to be used.  Examples of restrictions include educational programming, conservation priorities, capital expansion and general endowment.  For further ideas about targeting your gift, please contact the development office.

Education Programs

Those interested in supporting our education programs can choose from a variety. Examples include, but are not limited to ZooCamps, Book & Beast, ZooClass and Scout Programs.

Conservation Priorities

Those interested in supporting our conservation priorities can choose from a variety. Examples include Butterfly Beltway, ZooMobile, Citizen Science Nature Hikes and One Cubic Foot.

Zoo Parent

Your support helps keep our animals healthy and strong by providing enrichment items that encourage physical and mental stimulation.

Zoo Expansion

Stay tuned for information regarding donating to our Capital Campaign.

Gifts to the endowment

Gifts to the Endowment

A gift of endowment enriches Seneca Park Zoo by investing in its future.  A gift of endowment is invested and held in perpetuity, with its yield usable by the Zoo Society to support programs or positions you have endowed.  An endowment reflects your interest and serves as an enduring testament to you and the person for whom the endowment is named.  In general, a minimum gift of $25,000 is needed to establish a named endowment.  Of course, gifts of lesser amount may be made to any the Zoo Society’s existing endowment funds.

Forever Wild Society

In an effort to encourage planned gifts, the Seneca Park Zoo Society has established the Forever Wild Society.

When would you like to make your gift?


Outright gifts

Outright gifts are transfers of cash, appreciated security, or other property.  These gifts provide much needed financial support for the annual programming of the Zoo Society.  Because the Seneca Park Zoo Society is a nonprofit organization, your gift qualifies as a charitable deduction under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code.

Over several years


A pledge confirms your intention to make a gift to the Zoo Society.  It may include an immediate gift or solely reflect your intention to make a future gift.  You may wish to give your gift through a series of payments over several years. Your gift can be directed toward the area of your choice.

Now for the future

Gifts with retained interest

The Seneca Park Zoo Society accepts a number of gift strategies that allow you to retain an interest in the gift, thus holding certain rights in it until it becomes the Zoo Society’s. For example, through a charitable trust, you may retain an income from that trust for a term of years or for life before the trust reverts to the Zoo Society. Or, you might prefer to create a charitable trust that pays income to the Zoo Society for a specified period and then reverts to you or might pass to a family member.

Many gifts with retained interest qualify you as a member of the Forever Wild Society, recognizing your commitment to the future of the Seneca Park Zoo through your estate planning.

Upon your death


Making a bequest to the Seneca Park Zoo Society necessitates that you name the Zoo Society in your will or in a codicil to your will.  Bequests to the Seneca Park Zoo Society are not subject to federal or state inheritance and estate taxes and are presently deductible from your taxable estate without limit.

Individuals that notify the Development Department that the Seneca Park Zoo Society is named as a beneficiary in their will at a minimum level of $2,000 will become members of the Forever Wild Society.

What would you like to give?


A gift of cash is often the easiest gift you can make to the Seneca Park Zoo Society. Cash gifts are deductible for income tax purposes up to 50% of your adjusted income (some exclusions apply).  If you are unable to deduct the entire amount in the year of the gift, you may carry the unused portion of the deduction forward for up to five more years.

Appreciated Securities

Many people find it economically beneficial to donate appreciated securities to the Zoo Society.  When you give stock to the Seneca Park Zoo Society, you are entitled to a charitable tax deduction for the full market value on the date of the gift, provided you have held the securities for at least 12 months.  Many donors find that when they sell their highly-appreciated stock, they are subject to stiff capital gains taxes. By giving appreciated securities to the Zoo Society, you avoid tax on the appreciation and receive an income tax deduction for up to 30% of your adjusted gross income.

Planned Gifts

Gifts of Real Estate

Under certain circumstances, the Zoo Society will accept gifts of real estate. As in the case of appreciated securities, you may find it more economically beneficial to donate appreciated real estate rather than selling the property. Gifts of real estate are deductible in amounts up to 30% of your adjusted gross income. Gifts in excess of that limit can be carried forward for up to five additional years.

It is also possible to give your personal home and remain living in it. This arrangement, called a retained life estate, transfers ownership of your residence to the Zoo Society but allows you and your spouse to continue using it for the rest of your lives.  When you make a gift of a retained life estate, you agree to maintain the property as long as you live there. You are entitled to an income tax charitable deduction for the value of the future interest that you convey to the Zoo Society (based upon your age and the fair market value of your property).

Retirement Plans

Making a gift of your retirement plan may have significant potential tax advantages for you. You may choose to name the Seneca Park Zoo Society as the beneficiary of a retirement plan while leaving other, less-taxed assets to heirs. You may also fund a charitable remainder trust using retirement funds.

In Your Will

Make a bequest in the Zoo Society’s name in your will.

Charitable Lead Trusts

If you have assets that you do not need for current income, you might consider establishing a charitable lead trust. During your lifetime, the trust will pay an annual income to the Seneca Park Zoo Society; the assets will then be transferred to your designated beneficiaries at the end of the trust term, or you might arrange to have the assets returned to you at the end of the trust term. Charitable lead trusts can offer significant tax savings.

Charitable Remainder Trusts

A charitable remainder trust allows you to make a gift to the Zoo Society and retain the income from the assets you have donated. Charitable remainder trusts will pay you an annual income based on a fixed dollar amount or on an amount that can vary from year to year. The income can be paid out over the lifetime of the donor or other beneficiaries, or for an additional period of years (no more than 20), or for a combination of these options. At the end of the trust’s life, the assets become available to the Seneca Park Zoo Society to be used as you have requested. This option will also reduce your taxable estate.

The minimum amount required to establish a charitable reminder trust for the Seneca Park Zoo Society is $100,000. You may create a charitable remainder trust through securities, cash or certain property that can be sold and reinvested by the trust. Using long-term appreciated stock or other assets allows you to defer or completely avoid capital gains taxes.

There are two basic types of charitable remainder trusts: unitrusts and annuity trusts. The trusts differ in the way income is determined for distribution to their beneficiaries; however, they are similar in that both trusts trigger an income tax charitable deduction in the year of the gift.

Unitrusts pay out an agreed-upon fixed percentage of the annual fair market value of the trust’s assets. You may also make period additions to a charitable remainder unitrust. In contrast, a charitable reminder annuity trust pays a fixed amount based on the initial trust value, and you are not permitted to add to an established annuity trust. Charitable remainder annuity trusts provide you with the security of a predictable annual income regardless of fluctuations in the value of earnings of the trust, so long as there is money in the trust.

Life Insurance

Making a gift of life insurance may enable you to make a larger gift than you had previously thought possible. There are a number of options for making a gift to the Zoo Society with life insurance. The simplest way is to designate the Seneca Park Zoo Society as a beneficiary of a policy, either one you currently own or one you purchase to make such a gift.

Another option is to transfer the ownership of a life insurance policy to the Seneca Park Zoo Society.  When you do this, the policy proceeds may be eliminated from estate tax liability, and current income tax deductions may be available for the policy cash value and/or premiums you continue to pay.

Thank you for your support.