The Forever Fund: A New Way to Leave a Sky Island Legacy

The Forever FundI’m grateful to work for Sky Island Alliance. The work we do and the region we do it in is so special. Six biotic influences meet here, and it’s the only place in North America where jaguars and black bears coexist. The Sky Islands are also home to more than 7,000 other species, including more than half of the continent’s birds and creatures found nowhere else on Earth.

When I came on as director of development for Sky Island Alliance in 2021, we had just received a legacy gift. Someone had passed on and, through planning and forethought, had given part of their remaining estate to the organization. This gift was important and created a space for us to do something equally important. With the help of our board of directors and Executive Director Louise Misztal, we embarked on a journey to do just that.

Over 30 years ago, Sky Island Alliance was formed by a group of passionate people that recognized the need to protect this special region. And now, we had a chance to take a big step into the future. For a nonprofit like ours, this meant we could make concrete plans to secure our organizational sustainability, so we can keep doing our work through science, education, advocacy, and volunteerism. It also meant we could create better conditions where we weren’t as subject to the boom and bust of the grant world and where we could have a known and abundant source of funding for base costs, such as staff and operations.

After deliberation with our board in 2021, we made the decision of doing two things with this legacy gift. First, we invested a portion of it back into our programmatic work. This was done in 2022, and it significantly expanded our work in Sonora, adding new staff and opportunities for partnership and community.

Second, the board decided to create an endowment with the other portion of the legacy gift. I spent the first half of 2022 carefully researching a home for this endowment. We interviewed community foundations from here to San Diego and, with the help of the finance committee, ultimately chose the Arizona Community Foundation. The ”Sky Islands Forever Fund” was born.

Please join me in celebrating the future. A place where nature thrives, open space and clean water are available to all, and people are connected to the Sky Island region and its innate ability to enrich our lives. And join me in welcoming the Forever Fund into the world. In the coming year we’ll talk more about our goals for this fund, but for now, let’s celebrate its birth — a choice made with future generations in mind. Thank you to the late Andrew O’Dell, whose legacy gift made this choice possible. Thank you, Andrew. Thank you.

If you want to learn more about the Forever Fund or making a gift to the fund, please contact Amy Amoroso at [email protected] or (520) 624-7080 ext 77.