The sprayground at Faulkner Park is alive with the sights and sounds of splashing water and children's laughter. No one loves the sound of children's laughter or the pop of a tennis ball at the nearby tennis courts more than Robert Faulkner.

When Mr. Faulkner had the opportunity to give a gift of land for others to enjoy, he looked for an efficient way to make this happen.

Mr. Faulkner's intent was to donate land to the City of Tyler and the City of Lindale to develop public parks. In 1997, he chose to make the initial gift of two parcels of land to East Texas Communities Foundation to help him accomplish this objective. Each community now has a beautiful and functional park for everyone to enjoy.

Some of the most unique gifts given to ETCF over the past quarter century have been gifts of real property. Real property makes up a significant portion of the assets owned by individuals in East Texas.

As an example, the Smith County Appraisal District reports that the value of real property in the county totaled $12.3 billion in 2014 and mineral interests add another $357 million to the total.

Many of these assets are owned by individuals who must thoughtfully consider how to pass them to others after they are gone, keeping the next generation connected to a special home place or family farm.

It can also be an opportunity to support your favorite charity.

A study commissioned by ETCF on the subject of the transfer of wealth in East Texas identified nine donor opportunities that are unique to this region.

One-third of the nine donor opportunities related to real property: Agricultural real estate, energy wealth (minerals) and timber wealth. Peaches, roses, blueberries and poinsettias are just a few of the many crops that contribute to the commercial agriculture industry in East Texas.

The local economy and philanthropy in the region were changed forever with the discovery and subsequent production of the East Texas oil field.

It is the second-largest oil field in the United States outside of Alaska, and first in total volume of oil recovered since its discovery in 1930. The Texas Forest Service reported in 2012 that the East Texas region contained approximately 11 million acres of privately-owned timberland. These real property resources represent a significant portion of the assets owned by individuals in East Texas.

As individuals consider supporting their favorite charities, there are several options available for contributions of real property.

When considering a gift of property, a donor should carefully consider their expectations and the potential charitable use of the property.

For Mr. Faulkner, the gift of property for use as a public park was compatible with the City of Tyler and City of Lindale's desire to build and maintain the parks.

If the property is not expected to be put to public use as a park or location for a building, it should be expected to sell in a reasonable period of time.

If the gift is a gift of mineral interests, the donor should consider the capabilities of the charity to sell or manage the minerals, and the minerals must be of reasonable value to offset the costs to manage them.

The most common real property asset considered as a gift to charity is a donor's home. If there are no heirs, or if the heirs have no interest in keeping it, contributing a home is a great option.

The charity can sell the home and the proceeds of the sale can be used to support the charitable mission of the organization. A unique option also exists to give a life estate in a home to a charity, allowing a donor to live in their home for the remainder of their life and ultimately pass it to a charity.

The next time you attend a baseball game, play tennis or hike the trails at Faulkner Park, think about the property you plan to pass down to others. Making a contribution of real property or mineral interests to benefit your favorite charity may be your next best opportunity to Give Well.


Guest columnist, Kyle Penney is President of East Texas Communities Foundation. The mission of ETCF is to support philanthropy by providing simple ways for donors to achieve their long-term charitable goals. To learn more about ETCF or to discuss your charitable giving, contact Kyle at 866-533-3823 or email questions or comments to More information is available at


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