Boris And The Enduring Impact of Endowments
At 34 years old, Boris the polar bear is believed to be the oldest male polar bear in the world. Boris has lived over half of his life at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where he found a safe, caring home after being rescued from a tropical circus.
From special vitamins and foods to medical treatment and companionship, Boris’ long life is supported by his expert keepers and veterinarians at the zoo. To ensure that superlative treatment is possible for generations of animals to come, animal care for endangered species at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is supported, in part, by endowed funds.
“An endowment is relatively easy to set up but has an impact that extends well beyond a person’s lifetime to leave an enduring legacy”
Endowments are charitable funds invested and managed over time, generating earnings that are distributed annually to a donor’s chosen organizations or causes.
The Zoo Society, a 501c3 supporting the mission of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, receives funds from four endowments through GTCF. “Those endowments benefit animal care and our mission of saving species at risk of becoming extinct,” said Ruthann Howell, executive director of The Zoo Society.
“Endowments are vital to nonprofits,” added Ruthann, “Of course, we love support now, but when people give knowing their support will continue past their lifetimes, it is an altruistic, selfless act of giving.”
“Endowed funds are managed to last forever – and serve the community forever.”
One of the GTCF endowments that benefits the Point Defiance Zoo is the Charles Matejka Legacy Fund. A Navy veteran, Chip was a friendly produce staffer at a Lakewood grocery store. Helpful but reserved, Chip was also a shrewd investor. When he was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma, he had an estate worth more than $2 million. Chip passed away in 2008, leaving a legacy fund at GTCF that provides annual gifts to many local nonprofits, including The Zoo Society.
“An endowment is relatively easy to set up but has an impact that extends well beyond a person’s lifetime to leave an enduring legacy,” said Robin Callahan, GTCF vice president of Philanthropic Services. “Endowed funds are managed to last forever – and serve the community forever.”
Boris the polar bear leads a peaceful life at Point Defiance Zoo, full of salmon treats and excellent health care. Point Defiance Zoo staff biologist Sheriden Ploof described Boris this way, “He has good days and slow days. Sometimes he’ll be out playing in the pool for way longer than Blizzard, and other days he’ll just decide to stay in his den or nap on the sun porch.”
Boris may not realize that he’s set a world record, far outliving the median life expectancy of 23.4 years for polar bears. Thanks to the care of his keepers and veterinarians, if Boris keeps on beating the odds his legacy may last as long as the endowed funds supporting animal care at the zoo.
Overview of Endowments – National Council of Nonprofits
Should Your Nonprofit Build an Endowment? – Nonprofit Quarterly
Being Boris – Point Defiance Zoo
FEBRUARY 29, 2020
11:00AM – 3:00PM
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Chill with Boris and Blizzard. Free with admission. Feb. 29