Ways to Give
Your situation is unique, and your charitable gift should be planned according to your personal needs and goals, family assets, and charitable interests. Planning your gift can help you attain your personal giving goals; a thoughtful review of your interests and assets is a good beginning. Based on this review, our director of gift planning can suggest various charitable methods for achieving your goals.

Giving Now
Current gifts can be made by check or credit card, or by transfer of appreciated stocks or securities or real estate or other property. Life insurance policies can provide either current or deferred gifts.

Giving Later
Arrangements you make now to give to the zoo later can be an effective way to support the zoo’s mission. Such gifts could be made through bequests in a will or trust, or by naming the zoo as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or an IRA or other retirement plan.

Gifts can benefit you and/or loved ones, as well as the zoo. Examples are charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts.

Property or Real Estate
A review of one’s assets may suggest that donating personal property or real estate might be an effective way to support Living Legacy. Please be aware that such gifts often require extra planning and approval. The zoo has a Gift Acceptance Committee that reviews proposed gifts of real property to assure that they are appropriate for the zoo’s mission and needs. In most cases if property is accepted, the zoo will sell the property promptly and invest the proceeds in the Living Legacy Funds. Your gift of personal property or real estate could be a gift with substantial impact for the zoo.

Life Insurance
Life insurance can be used in a number of creative ways to help you achieve your charitable goals. A review of your life insurance policies may reveal that you have a policy that no longer is needed for its original purpose. One giving option is to name the zoo as beneficiary of the policy. You might also assign your annual dividends to the zoo, or simply transfer ownership of a paid-up policy to the zoo. Another option is to buy a policy benefiting your heirs to replace money or property that you donate to the zoo. There are other options also.

Making a gift of life insurance is easier than you might think. Your life insurance professional can help you obtain a transfer form from the insurance company or you can contact the company directly. If you do decide to benefit the zoo, it is best to use its formal name: Chicago Zoological Society.

Bequests can be made though a will or a living trust. A bequest may be for a specific sum of money, a specific property, or a percentage of your assets. A bequest can also be made for all, or a portion of the "residue", after you have specifically provided for loved ones.

Your attorney will ask for the proper identification of the charity to which you are leaving a bequest. Please inform your attorney that bequests may be made to the Chicago Zoological Society, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. The Chicago Zoological Society operates Brookfield Zoo and is located at 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.

IRAs or Other Retirement Plans
For many people their retirement fund may be one of their largest assets. It can afford them the opportunity to help assure their family’s future, to enjoy tax benefits and increased income, and to plan a major gift to an institution like Brookfield Zoo.

Current tax laws can greatly impact the effect of giving retirement plan assets to one’s family or to the zoo. Qualified retirement plans such as IRA’s, Keoghs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, qualified pension plans, and qualified profit sharing plans are eligible for special tax treatment. The tax laws are designed to allow assets in these plans to accumulate free of income tax. However, the laws are also set up so that federal income tax is due when the income and assets are paid out. Qualified retirement plans allow you to benefit from tax-free accumulation and, perhaps, a lower income-tax rate on your retirement income.

What if you have not used all of your retirement plan assets when you die? Leaving accumulated assets in retirement accounts to heirs can result in combined income and estate taxes of as much as 84%! However, the same retirement plan asset, if left to a charity like the zoo, can pass free of all taxes.

For more details, use the Request Additional Information form.

If you would prefer to send in a donation by mail please send to:
Chicago Zoological Society
Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, IL 60513

If you would prefer to talk to someone about making a donation please call:

If you have questions about Membership please call: 708-688-8341