Choosing to help shape the future of WILL

Susan and Lew Hopkins showed their appreciation for WILL Radio through a current endowment gift.

Susan and Lew Hopkins

Susan and Lew Hopkins Photo by Michael Owen Thomas

WILL was one of the first acquaintances Susan and Lew Hopkins made as newcomers to Champaign-Urbana 40 years ago. They chose to show their appreciation for this longstanding friendship through a current endowment gift in support of WILL Radio.

“We attended a planned giving seminar a number of years ago that highlighted the benefits—both to donors and to University of Illinois units—of current, rather than estate, gifts,” Susan Hopkins said. “Once you’re certain that you’ve taken care of your own financial needs, it becomes interesting to look at how to support organizations that you value.”

The seminar provided Susan and Lew with the perspective to explore funding two gifts—the one for WILL and another for the Department of Urban and Regional Planning within the U of I College of Fine & Applied Arts, where Lew taught urban planning for 35 years and served as head of the department for 13. They realized that instead of selling their rental property themselves, they could donate it to the University of Illinois Foundation, which would in turn sell the house. This approach saved on capitol gains tax, while Susan and Lew received a charitable deduction. A somewhat similar strategy would be to give long held appreciated stock.

From their early support of WILL with $25 annual gifts, the couple became more invested in the future of AM 580 as they realized the extent to which they relied on the station for in-depth perspectives on issues, quality news reporting and entertaining conversations on a diverse array of topics, as well as chances to call in with questions for radio guests.

During a radio fundraising drive, they learned the cost of a day of programming. The information formed the basis for the concept of their gift, established in 2007. The income from this endowment now provides one day’s broadcast funds each year.

“We’re realizing that it’s more fun to be generous while we’re around to see the results,” Susan said. “In doing a current endowment, we wanted to front load our contribution to WILL to do our part to help insure its health and survival in the face of the vagaries of other funding sources.”