Buy tickets
      Join & Give

      Legacy Giving

      PEM established the Nathaniel Bowditch Society to recognize and honor individuals and families who support the future of the museum by making a legacy gift such as a bequest or life income gift.

      PEM is grateful to those patrons and friends who consider making provisions for the museum in their estate plans. There are many ways a planned gift to the museum can be mutually beneficial to the donor and the institution. We are happy to work with you, your family and your advisors to answer questions about plans and explore scenarios that could provide income for life, favorable tax advantages and other opportunities. Please contact Bronwyn McCarty, Director of Individual Giving and Stewardship, at for more information.

      Nathaniel Bowditch Society
      Nathaniel Bowditch (1773–1838) was a founding member of the East India Marine Society, the progenitor of today’s Peabody Essex Museum, and was among the most brilliant mathematicians and astronomers of early America. His book The New American Practical Navigator is considered a classic and is still in use today.

      Through his will, Nathaniel Bowditch left many of his personal effects and the then-handsome sum of $1,000 to the East India Marine Society. His planned gift was one of the first such bequests to the Society. Given almost 200 years ago, it continues to help sustain the museum today – figuratively and literally connecting the past to the future.

      Bowditch’s example is the inspiration for today’s Nathaniel Bowditch Society. PEM established the Nathaniel Bowditch Society to recognize and honor individuals and families who support the future of the museum by making a legacy gift such as a bequest or life income gift. Nathaniel Bowditch Society Members meet annually and are invited to all special museum events.

      Members of the museum staff and PEM advisors are available to assist you in achieving your tax, estate planning and charitable giving objectives. As in all situations involving financial and estate planning, you should consult with your own legal and financial advisors.

      Ensuring that these collections will continue to be there for the future generations of my family and others is one of the many reasons I chose to make a legacy gift to support the Peabody Essex Museum.
      — Alex Ingraham

      Types of Gifts

      The most straightforward way to make a legacy gift to PEM is to name the museum in your will or living trust. A bequest affords you the ability to make a major gift to a specific program or interest you care about while preserving your assets during your lifetime. It’s flexible and can be changed if your life circumstances change. You can make a bequest by designating either a specific amount (or piece of property) or a percentage of your estate. If you already have a will or trust, your attorney can draft a simple amendment to it. If you are considering a bequest, please provide our sample bequest language to your attorney.

      PEM has partnered with the U.S. Charitable Gift Trust, a charitable organization sponsored by Eaton Vance, to offer a unique opportunity to PEM donors. The PEM Legacy Income Trusts are next-generation charitable planned giving instruments that enable donors to support PEM’s mission while providing an income stream for up to two individual beneficiaries. Less restrictive in certain respects than other planned giving vehicles, the PEM Legacy Income Trusts are a turnkey option for donors.

      Learn more

      A gift annuity is a common gift plan for people who have the desire to give, but still have the need to retain cash flow. It is a contract in which a donor makes a gift and in exchange receives payments for life. These secure payments are guaranteed and fixed in amount and will not vary with market fluctuations. The amount of the payment depends on your age at the time you set up the gift annuity. There are some tax advantages in addition to the annuity payments: You receive an income tax charitable deduction at the time the annuity is funded, which could potentially help you save on your income taxes. In addition, part of each annuity payment usually is not subject to income tax (tax-free). At the end of the gift annuity term, the remaining amount is then used by PEM where it is most needed.

      A charitable remainder trust, funded by any number of assets, provides income to a donor for a specified amount of time. In addition to the income you receive, you enjoy a substantial tax advantage at the time of gift and can use this option to help minimize estate and capital gains taxes. With a charitable remainder trust, you make a gift and receive lifetime income. Because it is a tax-exempt entity, capital gains tax is avoided when appreciated assets are transferred to the trust and when they are sold by the trust. As a result, the full market value of the asset is put to work, first for you and ultimately for PEM. In addition, you receive an income tax charitable deduction for a portion of the trust funding amount, which can be used immediately to save on income taxes.

      A gift of real estate, now or through your estate plan, can support PEM while providing you with potentially significant tax savings. Making this kind of gift during your lifetime also can lighten the burden of an asset you no longer use, such as a second home or vacation property. You can even give us your residence now and continue to live in it for the rest of your life. PEM welcomes gifts of real estate, and we are pleased to work with you on how the gift of an asset such as land, art and other personal property can help you with your plans and provide the museum with much-needed support.

      You can make gifts from your retirement plans, which can provide significant tax advantages for you and your heirs. This gift is among the most tax-wise ways to make an estate gift. This is because your retirement assets, if left to individuals other than a spouse, will be subject to income tax in addition to any applicable estate tax. With a gift to a nonprofit such as PEM, 100% of the funds remain available for our charitable purposes. If you want to remember us in your estate plan, it is often better to leave other types of assets – cash, securities, real estate – to your heirs and give the more heavily taxed retirement asset to PEM.

      IRA Charitable Rollover Gift
      If you are older than 70 ½ years, you can make charitable gifts directly from your individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Transfers of up to $100,000 per individual per year, directly from a traditional or Roth IRA to qualified charitable organizations (such as PEM), are permitted. The Development office keeps abreast of the changing tax landscape and any federal tax changes that may lead to new giving opportunities. Please do not hesitate to call us to explore these possibilities.

      Life Insurance and Other Gifts
      Life insurance policies can also be used to make a gift to PEM. Simply designate PEM as the recipient of all or a portion of the death benefit associated with your life insurance policy, using the proper form requested by your insurance company. As an alternative to naming PEM as a beneficiary, you can transfer ownership of the policy. Transferring ownership results in income tax savings in the year of the gift. Commercial annuity contracts, bank and investment accounts are also ways to leave a legacy gift by naming PEM as a beneficiary to receive all or a portion of your accounts.

      Nathaniel Bowditch Society Members Listing