Planned Giving: An Investment in the Future

Planned GivingAs tax time approaches, forward-looking people often include planned giving as part of their overall financial planning. Planned giving involves bequests that contribute to the future; in the case of the Buck Institute that future involves cutting-edge research aimed at extending healthspan, the healthy years of life.

Planned gifts have greatly influenced activities at the Buck. Founding Trustee Fred Drexler, who made the largest realized bequest to date, had a history of making gifts that mattered. After analyzing the Institute’s financial records, he made the first seven-figure gift to bridge a lean year and allow the fledgling organization to continue growing. Among other contributions, he later created a challenge grant. The $3 million planned gift announced after he passed away in 2003 at age 88 was a surprise to then-CEO Dale Bredesen, M.D., who was “thrilled” to have additional resources to devote to research in aging.

Dr. Bredesen recalls Mr. Drexler as “charming, personable, and highly principled.” A successful insurance executive, he shared financial resources and personal expertise, “always with the thought of what was best for the Institute,” Dr. Bredesen said.

“Fred knew that giving in this area would help future generations,” said Dr. Bredesen. “Age and age-related illness are going to have a bigger and bigger impact on society. When you plan your estate, you think of your sons, your daughters, your descendants. You leave direct monetary support for them, but you also think about leaving them a world in which they can survive and do well. In that sense, planned giving essentially is an indirect gift to your own descendants.”

Dr. Bredesen added, “Sometimes it is surprising to see how things play out. For example, a planned gift from Dr. S. William Levy, a dermatologist, helped a couple of young Institute researchers get started on a study of the deadly skin cancer melanoma, a disease Dr. Levy was seeing regularly in his practice.” Those researchers, now working at a biotech company on therapeutics for melanoma, “ultimately are going to protect family members or patients who Dr. Levy was working with,” Dr. Bredesen predicted.

Fred Drexler, Dr. Levy, and other generous individuals who have left bequests to the Institute also were financially savvy. “You get a lot for your research dollar,” said Dr. Bredesen. “If you pay a dollar for a soft drink, you get about 10 cents worth of product. If you use a dollar for research, you get about $4.50 worth of return because of the long hours researchers put in and the leveraging provided by government funding of research. If you value the future, there are many ways in which planned giving can benefit individuals and society.”

To learn more about planned giving options, please contact Maureen Reyes, Resource Development Department at (415) 209-2053 or

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