Couple donate to Allerton Park

Allerton Park & Retreat Center has announced that Mark and Chris Golden, of Chillicothe, IL, have made a six-figure gift utilizing two different “lifetime income gift” methods through the U of I Foundation. The couple also established the Christine L. (’75) and Mark Q. Golden Endowment for Allerton Park, which will be activated after their lifetimes and provide yearly income to promote, improve, and sustain the Allerton estate in Monticello.

Chris has “always been connected to Allerton”, beginning when she attended the 4-H Memorial Camp at Allerton Park as a child, and continuing when she visited as a University of Illinois student, and as an adult through a Peoria hiking club. She first brought her husband, Mark, to visit in 2012.

“We went and visited the gardens, hiked a nature trail, and went out to the Sun Singer,” Mark remembered. “And what impressed me was the scope of Allerton Park, and the fact that you can see sculptures and the Mansion and yet that’s just a few small parts. It’s quite a facility.”

The couple made the decision to support Allerton financially after evaluating options of what to do with an appreciated stock holding that had experienced hyper-growth during the relatively short time that they owned it. Mark made a “cold call” to the U of I Foundation, where he was connected with planned giving representative Jeff Roley.

“Chris and Mark were pleased to learn that they could get out of the stock and the associated risk without paying any capital gain tax, while also lowering their current income tax bill and securing a level of lifetime income they really couldn’t find anywhere else,” Roley explained. “Mark is already retired and Chris was nearing retirement, so generating a good level of income from the stock was a primary objective.”

With Chris’ affinity for Allerton, and Mark’s conversion to an “Illini fan by marriage”, the decision on where to give was relatively easy.

“I’ve trained him well, he knows if someone says ‘I-L-L’ he says ‘I-N-I’,” Chris joked of Mark, who graduated from Montana State University. “When we were talking to Jeff, Mark said I was the alum, so I got to pick. I picked Allerton.”

Mark and Chris decided to donate half of their stock to a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) and the other half to a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT), both of which will provide them lifetime income and other financial benefits. When the second one of them passes away, the assets remaining in the CGA and CRUT will be used to fund their endowment.

“The transfer of the gift was pretty simple. It was painless,” Mark said. “The Foundation has really streamlined the process – you can tell they have done this before. That made the decision that much easier.”

Another easy decision was the choice to make their gift unrestricted, recognizing that if they specified a certain use, priorities and funding needs may change down the road.

“When I come out to Allerton I’m impressed by the professionalism of the staff. They are the ones there every day and see the challenges of implementing the Master Plan,” explained Mark. “We put our confidence in the people on the ground and their good judgement.”

While discussing a gift that won’t be received until after the donors have passed away can sometimes be an uncomfortable topic, the Goldens recognize that making a gift in this way will benefit Allerton well into the future, and aid the Park in achieving its goal of becoming financially self-sustaining.

“In the case of the trust - it will be ongoing long after Chris and I have departed this life,” Mark said. “What it comes down to is stewardship. What does it mean to be a steward of the land, and of the gift? We’re in it for the long run. Robert Allerton’s gift outlasted his lifetime; Chris and I’s gift will outlast our lives. Hopefully people see that as stewardship.”

If you are interested in discussing a legacy gift to Allerton through a planned gift, please contact Allerton at 217-333-3287 or



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