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A farmer-turned-philanthropist leaves a legacy for her community & family

Angie Biester is, by nature, a nurturer, of both people and her land. The Thrivent client is a farmer in Clay County, Nebraska, growing corn, beans and wheat on the 400 acres she share-crop rents to two area farmers. The crop share rental arrangements allow for her to obtain a portion of the crop and pay a portion of the expenses. Farming on shares vs. cash rent helps her remain actively engaged in farming. It’s an arrangement that has given her the ability to fund her philanthropic dreams. But most importantly, Angie is the “world’s best aunt” to two nieces she thinks of as daughters.

So when it came time to look to her financial future, Angie knew she wanted to create a plan that would allow her to give generously to all the people and causes she’s passionate about. She just needed the help of a Thrivent financial advisor to guide her along the way.

Putting family first

After Angie’s husband died in 2010, and with no children of her own, Angie began to think more about how she could set up nieces Grace and Isabel for their financial future.

“They’re more than nieces to me—they’re like my kids,” says Angie. “They’re good girls. I just want to help them any way I can. I’ve been fortunate to have the things that I have, and I want to be able to pass that on to them. I would do anything for my nieces.”

The desire to create an inheritance plan for her nieces is what initially prompted Angie to reach out to Thrivent. Previously working with a different finance management company, her financial advisor’s unfamiliarity with inheritance tax implications made Angie question if he could truly handle her unique set of needs. While Thrivent does not provide specific legal or tax advice, we can discuss the overall implications to your financial plan, and partner with your tax professional or attorney.

Angie was open to the idea of working with someone new, so when she met Thrivent financial advisor Melanie Knoepfle at a Habitat for Humanity build, and later at another local charity event, it felt like a good match.

“[Melanie] was so excited and just really wanted everybody to be part of what was going on, and it made me feel really happy to be part of it,” says Angie. “I thought, ‘Oh, she seems really knowledgeable, but I’ve only met her one time.’ We were talking out in the community, but what was she like in the office?”

She agreed to meet with Knoepfle to find out.

You don’t know how far-reaching one little act of kindness can be.
Angie Biester, Thrivent client

Giving back to the community

The first question Knoepfle asked Angie when they sat down for their appointment was, “If you could be anything you want, what would it be?” Angie replied, “I just really want to be a philanthropist, but I don’t have Bill Gates or Warren Buffet money.”

Angie recalls Knoepfle’s response: “We can do that. You don’t need to have Bill Gates money to be a philanthropist.”

In order for Angie to give back to the charities and causes she cares about, Knoepfle helped her establish a donor-advised fund through Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing®, an investment account created for the purpose of supporting charitable organizations now and over time.

This is just one example of leaving a legacy though planned giving. Other financial donation options can include, but are not limited to:

  • Bequests: Through their will, a donor allocates a portion of their estate to a nonprofit.
  • Life insurance and retirement accounts: The policyholder names a charity or nonprofit as the beneficiary of their life insurance policies or retirement accounts.
  • Charitable gift annuities: A donor makes a donation to a charity, which invests the money and provides the donor with a monthly or quarterly payout for life.
  • Charitable remainder trust: After a donation is made, the donor or their beneficiaries can receive a regular income stream. After a specified time period or death of the beneficiary, the remaining assets are distributed to the named charities.
  • Charitable lead trust: The opposite of a charitable remainder trust, payments are made to a charity for a set term, after which the remainder of the trust is distributed to non-charity beneficiaries.
  • Charitable endowment: A donation to a charity in which the investment income is used for a specific purpose outlined by the donor.

“I get thank-yous back from the Youth for Christ kids who went to summer camp, and the high school band has all the instruments that they need,” Angie says of the impact of her charitable donations. “I love seeing how that [giving] will impact those people’s lives, and you don’t know how many other lives that will impact. The kid that goes to camp, he may help the neighbor kid. You don’t know how far-reaching one little act of kindness can be. You just don’t know.”

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Nieces | Angie’s Story | Follow Your Heart with Thrivent

How to become a philanthropist without a lot of money

Despite what you may have learned from celebrities in the media, you don’t need to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. All it takes is a desire to give back and intentional planning. Follow these steps to get started:

  • Identify causes that are important to you. Whether it’s education, housing, animal rescue, healthcare or anything in between, honing in on the causes that speak to your heart will make your donation feel more meaningful.
  • Ask the charities what they need. Some may request money for a specific purpose, like books for students, while others prefer to accept donations into a large account that distributes funds as necessary.
  • Think outside of the box when it comes to donations. Don’t let the inability to make a monetary donation deter you from giving. See if you can donate your time or resources instead. For example, if your passion is rescuing animals, you could volunteer to foster, or if you want to help the homeless, offer to hand out brown-bag meals.
  • Consider long-term giving. If you want to make a bigger impact with your dollars, think about long-term giving. By naming a charity as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, donor-advised fund or other planned giving vehicle, you can leave a legacy now and long after you’re gone. Your financial advisor can help you with this.
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Planning for the future

Establishing the donor-advised fund helped Angie achieve her dream of becoming a philanthropist, but through working with Thrivent and her financial advisor Knoepfle, she now has a plan for her personal financial future as well. Using the money Angie is collecting from her farming operation, she’s been able to plan for retirement, ensure she has enough coverage in her life insurance policies, and leave a legacy for Grace and Isabel.

“Thrivent has really given me peace of mind. I know where my financial future is. I know what I need to do, and what I’m able to do. I know what I’m able to help my family with,” Angie says. “Until I met with my Thrivent financial advisor, I had no way of knowing how I could help my nieces. With Thrivent's help, I was able to accomplish so many things to take care of my family."

If you want to learn more about how to become a philanthropist or leave money for family members, connect with a Thrivent financial advisor.

“Thrivent has given me an opportunity to really make a difference in people’s lives—whether it’s my family or the community,” Angie says. “And at the end of the day, that’s what’s really most important.

"I cannot say enough about how much my life is better because of Thrivent."

Member benefits and programs are not guaranteed contractual benefits. The interpretation of the provisions of these benefits and programs is at the sole discretion of Thrivent. Thrivent reserves the right to change, modify, discontinue, or refuse to provide any of the membership benefits or any part of them, at any time.

You should only purchase and keep insurance and annuity products that best meet the financial security needs of you and your family and never purchase or keep any insurance or annuity products to be eligible for nonguaranteed membership benefits.

Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing® is a public charity that serves individuals, organizations and the community through charitable planning, donor-advised funds and endowments. Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing works collaboratively with Thrivent and its financial advisors. It is a separate legal entity from Thrivent, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The client’s experience may not be the same as other clients and does not indicate future performance or success.