Assets to Acres

How Do You Turn a House into a Forest?

Most people know that the Forest Society accepts donations of land and conservation easements – gifts that protect our forests, rivers, lakes, mountains, and fields for future generations.
But did you know that the Society also accepts gifts of other types of property, such as homes, undeveloped house lots, and commercial properties? The Forest Society will even accept as a gift your existing conservation easement lands to keep as reservations or we may, when appropriate, re-sell the property to new owners, while still subject to the conservation easement.
Many of those who cherish the New Hampshire landscape and want to contribute to its protection choose to give a house, cottage, or parcel of land that they no longer need or want to maintain to the Forest Society.
With the donor’s permission to sell the donated property, the Forest Society can convert the value of that real estate “asset” to support the Forest Society and its mission. Think of it as turning a house into a forest.
If the property includes undeveloped land with significant conservation features, the Forest Society will put in place conservation restrictions when it sells the property, to ensure permanent protection of the land.
So how does this work? How does the Forest Society use the money from selling my donated real estate?

How it Works

  • You donate your house, house lot, condominium, vacation home, commercial property, apartment building, or undeveloped land.
  • If the land is already subject to a conservation easement it may become a reservation of the Forest Society or be resold still subject to the conservation easement.
  • The Forest Society sells the property at market value.
  • Proceeds from the sale of the property fund conservation activities that you care about.
  • You may enjoy substantial tax benefits.
Financial Benefits to the Donor
  •  Potential charitable income tax deduction
  • Potential alleviation of capital gains taxes on the sale of property
  •  Potential reduction of the taxpayer’s assets for inheritance taxes 
  • Elimination of carrying costs such as property taxes, insurance premiums, utilities, and maintenance expenses
  • Elimination of broker’s fees on the sale of the property
Donating real estate to the Forest Society enables the donor to quickly liquidate the asset, receive a potential tax deduction, and further support land conservation efforts in New Hampshire. 
About that Tax Deduction
The income tax deduction on gifts of real estate is generally based on the fair market value of the property as determined by an independent appraisal if the donor has held the property for more than one year. Gifts of real estate often exceed the limits of deduction for a single year. You can carry over the excess contribution amount that you are unable to deduct for the initial year of the gift for a specified number of additional years, depending on the type of donation you are making. We strongly urge those considering gifts of real estate to consult professional legal and tax advisors prior to making the gift to be sure that you understand the legal and tax implications of these gifts in relation to their circumstances.
Where Exactly Does the Money from the Sale of These Properties Go?
The Forest Society began the critical work of saving New Hampshire’s cherished places in 1901. Throughout its history, the Forest Society has helped landowners protect properties that are host to outstanding natural resources, such as unique ecological features, important wildlife habitats, underground and surface waters, and well-managed farms and forests. Donors who participate in the “Assets to Acres” program will see their gift proceeds divided equally among the following five funds:
Land Action Fund - Because owners do not always have the capacity to donate their land or conservation easements, sometimes the Forest Society has to purchase land or conservation easements, at times quickly, in order to protect a property’s exceptional natural resources. The Land Action Fund provides funding to accomplish these important projects.
Reservation Stewardship Endowment, Easement Stewardship Endowment, and Stewardship Defense Fund - Acquiring land or a conservation easement is just the beginning of our work. Every piece of land entrusted to the Forest Society comes with the responsibility of caring for and protecting it, in perpetuity. Today, through the ongoing efforts and support of dedicated people like you, the Forest Society protects more than 190,000 acres including more than 800 conservation easements and 180 reservations in 196 communities throughout the state, serving more than 1.3 million residents and visitors. Ongoing stewardship plays an essential role in the continued enjoyment of the lands we protect and it promotes the long-term sustainability of our forests while conserving healthy ecosystems. Our stewardship endowments and legal defense fund ensure we can always monitor and enforce our conservation easements and manage the land that the Forest Society owns.
General Operations – Forest Society staff perform many important programmatic duties including working with private landowners, communities, and other land conservation groups, toward direct land protection through purchase, donation, or conservation easements. Staff members provide assistance to communities and conservation organizations. Data on development and conservation trends is disseminated to policy makers, legislators, communities and others. Most of our reservations are open for public recreation, education, and demonstration of model wildlife protection and forestry. The Forest Society practices exemplary forest management with field programs for loggers, the forest products industry, state foresters, and individual woodlot owners. Our staff is instrumental in shaping public policy on forest and water conservation issues. We sponsor workshops, events, and field trips to educate landowners, resource professionals, business people, public officials, and teachers on land conservation issues, including wildlife history, sustainable forest management, and climate change. We also participate in land conservation events, conferences, and expositions; publish the quarterly Forest Notes magazine, sponsor "Something Wild" each Friday on New Hampshire Public Radio, and produce the “Forest Journal” column in the Union Leader’s Sunday edition. None of this important work is accomplished without support from our members and friends to programs like “Assets to Acres.”
How Do I Find out if the Forest Society is Interested in a Gift of My Property?

Call or write Anne Truslow, vice president for development, or Brian Hotz, vice president for land conservation, at 603-224-9945 or or Anne or Brian will answer your questions and, if desired, arrange for a staff member to visit your property.