A number of years ago, Barbara Walch of Guilderland was speaking with a friend who said she was opening a charitable gift annuity to benefit her college.

Around the same time, Barbara attended Mass at her parish, St. Madeline Sophie in Guilderland. "There was a beautiful insert in my parish bulletin concerning the diocesan gift annuity program," Barbara said. "I knew at the time that I was unable to consider opening an annuity, but saved the information until the date of my retirement."

As her retirement approached, Barbara contacted the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, which manages the diocesan annuity program and other planned giving programs.

"I decided to go with the annuity program through the Diocese and name my parish as the beneficiary of the annuity," she explained.

A charitable gift annuity is one of the easiest ways for a person to make a planned gift that can benefit your parish, a diocesan elementary or high school, diocesan programs and ministries such as Catholic Charities, or the Diocese itself.

The annuity rate is determined by the age of the donor. The older the donor is, the larger the annual payments are, which are fixed for the remainder of the donor's life. The donor also receives an immediate income tax deduction for a portion of the gift, as well as an annual deduction on a portion of the annuity payment for the life expectancy of the donor. After the donor passes on, the value of the gift annuity passes to the beneficiary.

"The direct income I earn quarterly on my gift annuity allows me to give to charitable works that I believe are valuable and needed," Barbara noted. "In addition to the income, I am also enjoying the tax benefits of the annuity.

"I am grateful that the annuity allows me to leave a legacy to my parish - a gift that truly will continue to give, even after I have gone on," she added. "I think that the program fits my purposes well and I would recommend anyone to consider taking part in the program as their means allow. Overall, it has been a very positive experience for me."

(Mr. Prindle is executive director of development for the Diocese.)