Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gail Ginnetty: The Legacy of a Lifetime

Gail Ginnetty’s love of all things water first took root when she learned to sail and began racing during her elementary school days. In high school, she sailed regularly in East Greenwich, and Narragansett became a regular summer beach spot. Now retired from a distinguished career in banking and development, Ginnetty lives in Cranston with a view of the Bay and is on her third sailboat in partnership with other owners. She has plenty of vivid memories—like that time rough weather blew out the spinnaker and her sailboat capsized when she was just 12 or 13, and competing and winning races almost from the beginning—that have fed her love for Rhode Island’s most important natural resource.

“Narragansett Bay has always meant wonderful opportunities to enjoy the water, and every year I create a new wonderful memory,” Ginnetty said. As I matured into adulthood, I developed a growing appreciation for what the Bay means to the state. It truly is part of the body of Rhode Island, and from an economic standpoint, even if you live in Woonsocket with no view of the bay, it’s extremely important to you.”

So, Ginnetty’s first gift to Save The Bay decades ago—in response to a request from someone who knew she cared about the Bay—was sort of “a natural.” In the mid 1980s, she became a sporadic volunteer, and in 1998, began what turned into a 15-year tenure on the board, including eight years as Treasurer. Her knowledge of wealth management and nonprofit endowment planning gave Save The Bay an invaluable leader who would help strengthen the organization fiscally.

Like her involvement with Save The Bay, Ginnetty’s small annual gifts progressed as she got to know the organization better and saw it had all the hallmarks of a good non-profit organization—”well-managed, broad outreach, strong relationships with government, private industry and other non-profits, adaptive strategies, and continuous improvement. Most importantly, I believe in its mission,” she said. In 2004, Ginnetty made what may be her most important contribution to date. She became a founding member of Save The Bay’s Seagrass Society, by notifying Save The Bay of her legacy gift plans.
“My decision to make a legacy gift... is the culmination of all the time, resources and passion I’ve spent here, and I want to think I can continue that investment long after I’m gone.”

The Seagrass Society honors individuals who remember Save The Bay in their estate plan—a legacy gift. Just as seagrass beds are a foundation for a healthy Bay, legacy gifts provide for the longer-term future of the organization and the Bay. They are planned during a donor’s lifetime, and activated upon their passing, allowing donors to fulfill their philanthropic dreams through the legacy they leave behind. More and more people around the world are leaving legacies in increasingly diverse ways—including retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, trusts, personal property or a percentage of one’s estate.

Ginnetty says she’s committed to legacy gifts in particular because they are accessible to everyone. “There is no minimum on a legacy gift. And they give people a chance to think about how they want to be remembered,” she said. “People with limited discretionary income can leave a larger gift in their will than they might be able to give during their life. Annual donors can continue their gift into perpetuity. Donors at any level can take their giving to the next level, whatever that is.”

“I’ve chosen to name Save The Bay a beneficiary of my individual retirement account. I have had the privilege of seeing Save The Bay move from its office in a very small old bank building to this beautiful location and the expansion of education programs that take marine science to schoolchildren all over the state. My decision to make a legacy gift—more than I could give today—is the culmination of all the time, resources and passion I’ve spent here, and I want to think I can continue that investment long after I’m gone,” she said.

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