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Frequently Asked Questions About Planned Giving

Why do I make my gift through The Library Foundation?

You can leave a gift for the library through your will, a living trust or you can designate a portion of your retirement account or life insurance policy to support the library. Generous individuals have made planned gifts ranging from $35 to $2.2 million.

The Library Foundation is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that Multnomah County Library management has designated to receive bequests and other planned gifts for the library. Naming The Library Foundation as a beneficiary (see language here) will enable you to remember the library, and, in some instances, receive tax benefits. 

How will my gift be used?

happy readerThe most rewarding part of making a planned gift is the knowledge that generations of children and adults will be transformed by the library, thanks to the resources you have accumulated during your lifetime.

Supporters make a big impact with their gifts. The Library Foundation supports programs, collections, neighborhood library branches and more. Currently, children's literacy, especially for those at greater risk, is a primary focus. Donors can also support programs that bring arts and culture within reach for every child, adult or family in our community. Last year, more than 220,000 people were reached with programs funded by gifts to the foundation.

Does my gift pay to keep library doors open?

Gifts to The Library Foundation do not fund basic library operations. We work closely with librarians to determine where private funding can expand and enhance the library’s work, helping the library offer books and programs and undertake building renovations that might not be possible otherwise.

Should I designate a specific use?

We don't know what tomorrow's library will look like but we know there will always be a need for libraries. Librarians are experts in meeting peoples' emerging needs for information, books and materials in formats we can't even imagine today.

An unrestricted planned gift gives librarians the most flexibility in meeting our community’s needs in the future. However, some people choose to designate a specific use for their planned gift - for example to preserve and honor a beloved library branch or to support children's literacy. The library will continue to adapt and shift to meet our evolving needs. Your gift can help our library make a life-changing difference for each person in our community.

Who makes decisions about my gift in the future?

The Library Foundation works closely with the library to determine how gifts will be used. The foundation is governed by a board of trustees, including an investment committee with an impressive array of financial and investment professionals. Thirteen of The Library Foundation's 20 trustees are lawyers or investment professionals. These trustees work with librarians and literacy experts to evaluate funding priorities each year and make sound decisions about where supporters' gifts will have the greatest impact.

You can make a lasting impact by naming The Library Foundation as a beneficiary in your estate plan.

What happens if I don't have a will?

Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law. Through estate planning, you have the satisfaction of deciding exactly how and where to give.

Can I write a will myself?

There are many resources available to help you write your own will. However, wills and bequests are subject to state and county laws, and it is wise to get professional advice. An estate attorney can help you make sure your wishes are stated clearly in a way that leaves no room for questions.

Does the foundation have a planned giving society?

Central LibraryYes. When you make a planned gift, you become part of the Ella Smith Society. Ella Smith was a pioneer - a woman who invested in Multnomah County Library more than 100 years ago. Her bequest in 1891 helped secure the library's first permanent home in a two-story stone building at Broadway and Stark Streets.

The Ella Smith Society allows us to express our gratitude by inviting members to take behind-the-scenes tours of the library's historic Central Library building, and it helps us recognize your gifts in our annual reports.

What is the difference between The Library Foundation and Friends of the Library?

The Library Foundation is a private nonprofit organization that was created to raise and manage private gifts that increase the library's impact and reach. The Library Foundation is the non-profit designated by Multnomah County Library’s management to receive planned gifts for the library, as well as outright cash and in-kind donations.

The Friends of the Library is a grassroots membership organization, whose members advocate for the library with the public. Members also raise money through the Friends' Library Store and an annual book sale.

Can I remain anonymous?

Of course! Any kind of gift to The Library Foundation can remain anonymous to the public. Just tell us your wishes. We take the utmost care to reflect your gift in the way you intend. A gift to The Library Foundation can also be made in honor of a special person you would like to recognize. Please ask us for details.

Can I talk to someone in person?

We would be happy to answer your questions and discuss your ideas. Our Director of Major Gifts, Laura Fay, can be reached at 503.223.4385 or at lauraf at libraryfoundation dot org.