Your donation to OWAA helps keep this nearly century-old organization vibrant, thriving and working toward its mission.

You can donate to OWAA through a one-time contribution or setup a recurring donation – and allocate your gift as you see fit. You can also consider including OWAA in your estate planning too, providing language in your will to gift either a set amount or a percentage of your estate.

Some of our most popular initiatives that people donate to are:

OWAA Operating Fund 

The Operating Fund is a non-restricted fund which is used to satisfy OWAA’s cashflow needs for its daily operations. When you donate to the OWAA Operating Fund, you’re helping pay for ongoing expenses such as office needs, payroll, all members benefits and services and conference expenses. 

Lonnie Williamson General Endowment Fund

Each year, OWAA’s Endowment Trustees determine whether the investment goals of the Lonnie Williamson General Endowment Fund have been met and, if so, distribute up to 5% to OWAA for operations. Donations to this fund help provide longterm financial stability for the organization. The fund includes the Sylvia and Jim Bashline Writers Fund and the Bob Smith Fund, named to honor these major figures in OWAA history.  
OWAA’s ultimate goal is to grow this fund to at least $5 million, allowing it to cover up to 25% of OWAA’s operating expenses – per year – in perpetuity.

OWAA Bodie McDowell Scholarship Fund 

The Bodie McDowell Scholarship Fund is managed by OWAA’s Endowment Trustees, who distribute up to 5% of the fund’s income to students enrolled in a college or university who are pursuing a course of study related to the field of outdoor media. Recipients are selected by the OWAA Education Committee. Recently, $15,000 to $22,000 per year has been distributed to budding outdoors communicators through this fund.

OWAA John Madson Fellowship Fund 

The John Madson Fellowship Fund is managed by OWAA’s Endowment Trustees, who distribute up to 5% of the fund’s income to outdoor communicators to attend workshops, courses, the OWAA annual conference and other craft improvement opportunities. OWAA Circle of Chiefs selects the recipients of this award. In recent years, $2,400 to $3,000 per year has been distributed to outdoor communicators to further their careers.

OWAA Golden Quill Society

OWAA’s Golden Quill Society recognizes those OWAA members who make a lasting contribution to our mission by including the
organization in their estate planning. Members who leave a gift to OWAA in their wills or estate are recognized as members of this exclusive circle. 

The logo of OWAA's Golden Quill Society

 No gift is too small (or too large) and you need only notify OWAA that you’re leaving a gift in your estate to the organization (be it a specific gift amount or a percentage of your overall estate) and sign a pledge form to be included. You can remain anonymous, if you prefer.
You should consult an attorney when designating a gift in your estate. You can also consult OWAA’s legal counsel who can help you get started. You can also consult our blog post, “Five ideas for giving to your favorite charity (OWAA) in 2022 and beyond“. 
To join, contact OWAA staff: | (406) 728-7434. We hope to welcome you soon to the Golden Quill Society!


OWAA Gift Acceptance Policies and Guidelines 

Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) is a not-for-profit organization organized under the laws of the State of Maryland, with headquarters in Missoula, Montana, and qualifies as a tax-exempt public charity under section 501 (c) (3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.  OWAA encourages the solicitation and acceptance of gifts to OWAA that are consistent with the purposes of OWAA.  Its bylaws state that OWAA’s purposes are “to improve the communication and managerial skills of its members, set high standards for communicating outdoor subjects, promote outdoor communications in all media and encourage appropriate natural resource use and conservation.”  The following policies and guidelines govern acceptance of gifts made to OWAA, either as permanent (endowment) funds or to support the operating fund of OWAA.  OWAA appreciates the generosity of members and others, but is not obligated to accept gifts.

OWAA’s financial matters are handled in two ways.  Ongoing operations and the annual budget, which includes the headquarters building, are supervised by the Executive Director, the Treasurer and Finance Committee, and the Board of Directors.  Endowment or permanent funds are accepted, managed, and disbursed by the Endowment Trust, which has five trustees and is created by the OWAA bylaws.  Gifts to support ongoing operations as well as additions to the Endowment Trust are welcome as provided in these guidelines.

By this document both the Endowment Trustees and the OWAA Board of Directors have provided guidelines for certain types of gifts that generally will be accepted.  The guidelines identify types of gifts that generally require review before acceptance.  Ultimate decisions regarding acceptance of gifts in each case reside either with the Endowment Trustees or with the Board of Directors.  In addition to the general funds contained in the Endowment Trust, it contains the Bodie McDowell Scholarship Fund and the John Madson Fellowship Fund.  Regarding endowment gifts with restrictions, the bylaws provide:  “The Endowment Trustees may establish other restricted funds in their discretion and may decline endowment gifts if the gifts are made upon any condition that the Endowment Trustees determine is inconsistent with the purposes and goals of OWAA.  If the Trustees should be unsure whether a gift should be accepted, they may submit the question to the OWAA Board.  Any accepted gifts that are made subject to conditions shall be held subject to such conditions.”

As with other journalists’ organizations, OWAA must avoid overly close relationships or financial dependence on corporations, government agencies, or advocacy groups.  Accordingly, OWAA, both through its Board of Directors and through its Endowment Trustees, reserves the right to decline or return any donation that may conflict with these principles or otherwise damage the integrity of the organization.  Gifts over $5,000 will only be accepted from individuals, foundations, and educational institutions and will automatically go into an escrow account pending approval of the Board of Directors and/or Endowment Trustees.  All gifts over $5,000 will be “transparent” with the identity of each donor of such amounts revealed to either the Board of Directors or Endowment Trustees before acceptance, depending on whether the gift is to go into the Endowment Trust or support current operations.  In the event either the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees disapproves the gift, it will be withdrawn from the escrow account and returned.

No solicitation or acceptance of donations to OWAA shall be made except in accordance with these policies and guidelines.  No person is authorized to give guidance on behalf of OWAA about the deductibility of gifts other than to inform donors that OWAA is a tax-exempt public charity under Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c) (3), gifts to which may be tax deductible under United States tax laws.

Advice of legal counsel on behalf of OWAA will be sought prior to acceptance for all gifts of the following:  closely held stock or stock subject to buy-sell agreements; any gift designating OWAA or the Endowment Trust as a trustee; all gifts involving contracts or imposition of an obligation; gifts raising conflict of interest issues or other matters that may jeopardize OWAA’s status with the IRS; gifts of real estate.  All donors are encouraged to seek legal or tax planning advice before making gifts.  Donors will be responsible for their own legal fees and costs associated with any gift, including but not limited to the cost of any appraisal that may be required for tax or other purposes.

Subject to the provisions of this document, the following types of gifts may be made to OWAA.

1. Cash: Cash is acceptable in any form. Checks shall be made payable to OWAA and shall be delivered to OWAA’s headquarters.

2. Tangible Personal Property: The Executive Director may accept tangible personal property that can be used by OWAA or related to its purpose, without approval from the Board or Endowment Trustees, so long as the gift is consistent with these Policies and Guidelines.  All gifts of tangible personal property shall be examined in light of the following criteria:

  • Can the property be used to fulfill the mission of OWAA?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there any undue restrictions on the use, display, or sale of the property?
  • Are there any carrying costs for the property?
  • Is the property safe?

3. Securities: OWAA can accept both publicly traded securities and closely held securities, but no agreement will be made with the donor prior to or subsequent to the gift regarding its disposition. OWAA will make all decisions regarding the sale or retention of securities.  

Publicly Traded Securities: Marketable securities may be transferred to an account maintained at one or more brokerage firms or delivered physically with the transferor’s signature or stock power attached. As a general rule, all marketable securities shall be sold upon receipt unless otherwise directed by the Executive Director, the Treasurer, or the Endowment Trustees. In some cases marketable securities may be restricted by applicable securities laws, restrictions, encumbrances, or lack of a market. In such instances the final determination on the acceptance of the restricted securities shall be made by the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees.

Closely Held Securities: Closely held securities, which include not only debt and equity positions in non-publicly traded companies but also interests in LLPs and LLCs or other ownership forms, can be accepted subject to the approval of the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees.  Gifts must be reviewed prior to acceptance to determine that:

  • there are no restrictions on the security that would prevent OWAA from ultimately converting those assets to cash;
  • the security is marketable; and
  • the security will not generate any undesirable tax consequences for OWAA.

If potential problems arise on initial review of the security, further review and recommendation by an outside professional may be sought before making a final decision on acceptance of the gift. The final determination on the acceptance of closely held securities shall be made by the Endowment Trustees or the Board of Directors. Every effort will be made to sell non-marketable securities as quickly as possible.

4. Real Estate: Gifts of real estate may include developed property, undeveloped property, or gifts subject to a life estate. Prior to acceptance of real estate, OWAA shall require an initial environmental review of the property. In the event that the initial inspection reveals a potential problem, OWAA shall retain a qualified inspection firm to conduct an environmental audit. The cost of the environmental audit shall generally be an expense of the donor. Where appropriate, a title binder shall be obtained by OWAA prior to the acceptance of the real property gift. The cost of this title binder shall generally be an expense of the donor.

Considerations for acceptance of real estate shall include:

  • How does the property support the mission/purposes of OWAA?
  • Is the property marketable?
  • Are there carrying costs, which may include insurance, property taxes, mortgages, or notes, etc., associated with the property?
  • Can OWAA adequately care for the property?

5. Remainder Interests In Property:  OWAA may accept a remainder interest in a personal residence, farm, or vacation home with a retained life estate subject to the provisions of paragraph 4 above. The owner of the life estate may continue to occupy the real property for the duration of the stated life. At the death of the owner of the life estate, OWAA may use the property or reduce it to cash. Where OWAA receives a gift of a remainder interest, expenses for maintenance, real estate taxes, and any property indebtedness must be paid by the donor or life estate owner.

6. Life Insurance:  OWAA may accept gifts of life insurance, which may be accomplished in one of several ways.

  • The donor may purchase a policy naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, then contribute annually to OWAA and receive a charitable deduction for each premium due. OWAA would use the contributions to pay the annual premiums on the policy.
  • The donor may make a gift of a paid-up policy, naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, receiving a charitable deduction equal to the replacement value of the policy or net premiums paid if less than replacement value.
  • The donor may contribute a partially paid-up policy naming OWAA the owner and sole beneficiary, receiving an income tax deduction for the cash value of the policy (or net premiums paid if less than cash value) and for any premiums that the donor continues to pay.
  • The donor may choose to give the proceeds of a life insurance policy, naming OWAA as beneficiary.

Donors and supporters of OWAA shall be encouraged to name it as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of their life insurance policies.  Such designations shall not be recorded as gifts to OWAA until such time as the gift is irrevocable. 

7. Charitable Gift Annuities:  OWAA may in some circumstances agree to offer charitable gift annuities if approved in advance, as long as only liquid assets are contributed, annuity payments are not required more often than quarterly, the donor or donors are over age 65.  All amounts remaining after the donor’s death shall go into the Endowment Trust.

 8. Charitable Remainder Trusts:  OWAA may accept designation as remainder beneficiary of a charitable remainder trust with the approval of the Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees.  OWAA will not accept appointment as trustee of a charitable remainder trust. 

9. Charitable Lead Trusts:  OWAA may accept a designation as income beneficiary of a charitable lead trust.  The Board of Directors or the Endowment Trustees will not accept an appointment as Trustee of a charitable lead trust. 

10. Retirement Plan Beneficiary Designations:  Donors and supporters of OWAA are encouraged to name OWAA as beneficiary of their retirement plans.  Such designations shall not be recorded by OWAA as gifts until the gift is irrevocable.  If the gift is irrevocable but is not due until a future date, the present value of the gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.

11. Bequests:  Donors and supporters of OWAA are encouraged to make bequests to OWAA under their wills and trusts.  Such bequests shall not be recorded by OWAA as gifts until the gift is irrevocable. If the gift is irrevocable, but is not due until a future date, the present value of that gift may be recorded at the time the gift becomes irrevocable.

These Policies and Guidelines were approved by the OWAA Board of Directors on June 19, 2007, and by the OWAA Endowment Trustees on August 29, 2007.  They may not be altered except by action of both the Board of Directors and the Endowment Trustees.  Questions may be directed to the OWAA Executive Director or Treasurer.

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