'Tis the Season of Giving to Support the River System

An osprey and two chicks atop an osprey pole installed by Friends along the Little Calumet River.

This holiday season, Friends has plenty of options to delight the friend of the river in your life with the perfect gift.

Symbolically Adopt an Animal of the River 

You can symbolically adopt a catfish, osprey, or painted turtle. The Chicago and Calumet Rivers are teeming with an amazing diversity of animals, all of which are important to our local ecosystem and deserve our respect and protection. All wildlife adoptions come with certificates and other fun items celebrating these remarkable native species.

Gift a Membership

In addition, a gift membership of any size for a friend or loved one provides Friends with the operating support that impacts all of our programs and initiatives and sustains our mission all year long. Membership is accompanied by fun benefits including discounts on paddling events and free admission to our Bridgehouse Museum. Field trip and wildlife adoptions contain these benefits as well. Simply click the “Gift Membership” box on our donation form and include the recipient’s information so our staff can notify them.

Save on Your Taxes

A Friendly reminder as year-end giving is upon us. We humbly ask you consider Friends of the Chicago River at this year’s end and include a reminder for Your End-of-Year Charitable Gift Planning: New SECURE 2.0 retirement plan legislation aims to expand Americans’ ability to save for retirement and increase their options for doing so. The new law became effective January 1, 2023. Three key changes impact charitable giving. The law:

  • Increases the required minimum distribution (RMD) age. The new law increases the age retirees must begin taking taxable withdrawals to 73 in 2023 and 75 by 2033. It does not, however, increase the age an IRA owner can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). That age remains at 70½ years. Extending the RMD age gives individuals more time to save, enjoying additional years of tax-free growth. 
  • Adjusts for inflation the $100,000 annual limitation on direct gifts to qualified public charities from an IRA. The $100,000 cap for QCDs that has been in place for well over a decade will increase annually to reflect inflation. Retirement plan assets are often one of the largest percentages of an individual’s wealth. With a QCD gift, individuals can use philanthropy to uplift community health and wellbeing, allowing them to see that impact during their lifetime. This new law ensures individuals’ giving from retirement assets keeps pace with inflation.
  • Allows for a distribution from an IRA to fund a life-income gift. This remarkable provision allows for a one-time election for a QCD from an IRA to be made to a split-interest entity. A distribution of up to $50,000 can be made to a charitable gift annuity (CGA), charitable remainder unitrust or charitable remainder annuity trust. These types of life-income gifts allow you to make a charitable contribution to a qualifying charity and receive lifetime payments to boost your retirement income or provide a lifetime payment for a spouse, family member or other beneficiary.

To learn more about planned giving, please direct your questions our Director of Development Annie Hanrahan at ahanrahan@chicagoriver.org.

Buy a Ticket

You could also give the gift of a memorable experience by purchasing tickets to the 2024 Ice Odyssey, an unparalleled opportunity to see the enchanting beauty of the Chicago River on a frosty winter evening. Hosted by Friends’ Otter Society Committee, the mystical Ice Odyssey cruise will be aboard the majestic Odyssey Chicago River, a glass-enclosed and climate-controlled vessel, on February 15. A portion of each ticket purchased is also tax-deductible.

Know its Value

Any contribution you can make will be meaningful to our mission and vision. The river is healthier today than it was yesterday, and this time next year it will be even healthier thanks to the generosity of supporters like you. Thank you for considering us during this season of giving.