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AOPA Foundation donors encourage legacy givingAOPA Foundation donors encourage legacy giving

Intrigued by an AOPA Air Safety Foundation mailing seeking donations, Mike Lazar called the telephone number listed and was surprised by who he reached: Bruce Landsberg.

The AOPA Legacy Plaza is a standing reminder of the many donations to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation that will help ensure AOPA’s sustainability for years to come. Photo by Chris Rose.

Landsberg, who at the time led AOPA's safety and pilot education efforts, explained that a small, efficient group raised funds and created safety programs for pilots and invited Lazar to a Board of Visitors meeting to learn more about the Foundation and how it was donor-funded.

That was the beginning of what has become a long relationship between Lazar and the Air Safety Foundation, now the AOPA Foundation. Lazar has been an active donor who has encouraged others to give as well.

Now he and Edward McNeil, who Lazar introduced to AOPA and the foundation, are encouraging pilots to make legacy gifts to the foundation to ensure AOPA’s sustainability for years to come, even during difficult economic times.

“Legacy gifts provide an additional source of funding and are a powerful way to make a truly significant impact on the future of general aviation,” said Mike Tompos, AOPA Foundation vice president of philanthropy.

AOPA member Mike Lazar is an advocate for the AOPA Foundation and its Legacy Society. Photo by Mike Collins.

“Dues are not used to support AOPA’s charitable programs,” Lazar said, pointing to AOPA’s You Can Fly program and the AOPA Air Safety Institute's educational efforts, as well as other initiatives. Lazar and McNeil had originally started donating to what was then the Air Safety Foundation because of its popular in-person seminars that they said helped change the safety culture of GA across the country. Now, the Air Safety Institute produces in-person seminars, online training courses, safety videos, a CFI newsletter, and much more—all still free to pilots.

Lazar encouraged pilots to think about the $100 hamburger flights they’ve made over the years and the freedom to fly that they have enjoyed in large part because of AOPA’s workand give back.

AOPA member Ed McNeil, a supporter of the AOPA Legacy Society, stands in the new Legacy Plaza at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. Photo by Mike Collins.

“The whole purpose of legacy is to not provide a specific dollar number but whatever is in your capability to give,” McNeil said. Pilots could also leave their aircraft to the foundation, or make the foundation a beneficiary of a retirement account or life insurance policy as another form of legacy giving.

Those who include a legacy gift in their plans will have their name added to the Legacy Court at AOPA headquarters that Lazar and McNeil designed and funded with the help of other contributors. The wall currently has space for 2,500 names, and an additional 2,500 names can be added after the first group is filled.

“The important thing that is accomplished is the continuity of the organization,” Lazar said, adding that the United States has the largest GA community in large part because of AOPA’s work.

Those who are interested in legacy giving can visit the foundation’s website or call 301-695-2320.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, Air Safety Institute

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