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Those who are passionate about wetland conservation and waterfowling are often justifiably proud of their Ducks Unlimited contributions via ongoing membership, donations and volunteer work. The work done as an organization is critical to the ducks, the habitat and the sport. Waterfowl is our legacy.
DU's collective accomplishments over the past 86 years have helped reverse declining waterfowl numbers before its origin in 1937, and have made waterfowl numbers the sole bright spot in a recent census of bird populations across North America. The 2022 U.S. State of the Birds Report was written by a team of 33 leading science and conservation organizations and published by the Cornell Lab, and it found that with the very narrow exception of waterfowl and some other waterbirds, numbers in virtually all bird families have declined steadily since 1970.
The article specifically cited wetland conservation efforts as the leading factor in waterfowl outcomes running counter to the broader trend and spoke to more widespread use of this model to assist other bird types. To quote from just one of several citings in the larger writeup, "Waterfowl have increased dramatically in the past 30 years with decades of investment by hunters, federal funding and private-public partnerships to protect wetlands." As conservationists, we’re proud to receive such an acknowledgment, but it’s very apparent the work is far from finished, and our gains are subject to reversal if today’s efforts cease.
Thus, the question arises, who will take our place when today's DU members are no longer leading the charge? Youth recruitment is imperative and will ensure the continuity of the larger organization, but you can underscore your own conservation legacy with a planned estate gift.
Pledging estate gifts to Ducks Unlimited's Feather Society is an opportunity to ensure your accomplishments are preserved and continue to support wetland conservation in perpetuity. More importantly, these gifts benefit DU's conservation efforts today and ensure future wetlands and waterfowl funding in the future by investing in DU's endowment.
Ducks Unlimited endowments serve dual roles. The steady stream of annual revenue derived from DU's endowments provides a reliable support base for DU's conservation programs. Equally valuable, endowments create a financial cushion—a rainy day fund—that can provide program continuity through periods of economic downturn, allowing DU to maintain program capacity and conservation momentum during inevitable lean times. As such, the Ducks Unlimited Board of Directors underscored the importance of endowment efforts by making endowment growth a critical focus of its FY23-28 Strategic Plan, with an aggressive goal of achieving $400 million in endowments from DU's current level of approximately $90 million.
DU's development team is always available to share information on the multiple options for estate giving, and each region has a designated planned giving staff member who can advise on specifics and finer details. For Wyoming, contact Chris Cole (901-758-3763), DU's Managing Director of Gift Planning. He can help create a plan tailored to suit almost anyone's estate size and beneficiary variables while explaining the advantages and tax implications of each option. Members completing an estate plan with a Feather Society pledge receive a handsome lapel pin or pendant recognizing their unyielding commitment to conservation and incredible generosity.