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Leaving Behind a Lasting Legacy


We are guaranteed two things in this life — death and taxes. When we leave this world, most people want to leave the world a better place. There are many ways you can create a legacy that will be remembered for generations. The National Railroad Museum provides opportunities for donations that will make an immediate impact, as well as those that will positively impact the community for years to come.

If you plan to provide long-term support that will continue to grow over-time, consider a gift to a non-profit’s endowment fund.

An endowment fund is a permanent and self-sustaining source of funding. The funds that comprise of the principle within the endowment are invested and the interest earned is used to support the long-term initiatives of the organization or can be used as income to support operations.

There are a few different types of endowment funds, restricted, unrestricted and a quasi-endowment. Each often has different policies regarding them.

Restricted Endowment

Aligning with the mission and purpose of the organization, the donor can set a specific use for donated funds. For example, the National Railroad Museum’s mission focuses on preservation and restoration of the Museum’s rolling stock. We raise money to restore equipment such as passenger cars, locomotives, as well as smaller railroad-related pieces, such as drumheads. A donor can start an endowment fund that would designate any interest generated from the fund would support restoration efforts.

Unrestricted Endowment

An unrestricted endowment allows a recipient to determine how the funds are used. Most organizations, when gifted with an unrestricted endowment, will evaluate their future needs and apply it to where they feel it will be the most impactful. Many organizations have a general endowment fund that anyone may contribute towards. This can be the most impactful endowment because it supports multiple needs of an organization. The interest in these general funds may be designated by the organization to be used as a “rainy-day fund”, filling in the gaps during slow seasons or when special repairs updates must be made to the facility.


Quasi-endowment funds are designated by the board, rather than by donors or regulators, to act like permanently restricted funds from which income is available for general operations or certain specific purposes. Many of the Museum’s rolling stock have restricted funds for their restoration that act as a quasi-endowment. This is a way that the Museum can create pools of money that pay for their restoration.

When it comes to giving an endowment gift, each organization develops its own guidelines defining what level and type of financial contribution may be considered for an endowment fund. For donations that do not fit these guidelines, a variety of unrestricted, non-endowment donations ranging from trusts, bequests, life insurance, securities, personal property, real estate, and memorial or tribute-giving are donations that can meet a donor’s legacy goals. At the National Railroad Museum, we offer several memorials and tribute opportunities, including the engraved bricks on the depot platform, the engraved benches used throughout the museum and the grounds, a tree or garden dedication, and customized tributes and memorials.

Whether you are going to be 0opting for an endowment, a memorial, or another type of gift, consult with the organization with which you wish to donate as well as talk with your financial planner or estate attorney so that you have all the information you need when deciding on which legacy would be best for you.


Matt Malm is the Development Director for the National Railroad Museum. Matt has worked for the museum since 2014. For more information on donating to the museum, you can reach him at [email protected].  Learn more about the Memories Program by visiting the Memories Program webpage.

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