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Land Donation

Donating land to a conservation partner is usually the simplest conservation option because financing and price negotiations aren’t necessary. The process involves discussing your goals and intentions with your intended recipients to confirm that they will accept your land gift and then an eventual transfer of title.

You can also donate cropland or non-conservation land to support conservation efforts.

Financial benefits

  • You will no longer pay property taxes or costs of management.
  • A full donation to a qualified government agency or nonprofit organization maximizes the income tax benefits of land protection. You may be able to claim a federal income tax deduction plus an Iowa income tax credit for the land’s fair market value (as determined by a qualified appraiser).
  • Some landowners donate land in installments or partial interests over a period of years to maximize their tax benefits.
  • If the land is in an estate, you may be able to reduce the federal estate tax and your heirs’ state inheritance tax. 

Other benefits

Donating land for conservation also provides intangible benefits:

  • Because you are making a gift, you have more control in choosing your land’s future owner, land uses, management goals and transaction timing.
  • You may be given naming rights to the property — allowing you to memorialize your family name or placing a meaningful name on the land permanently.
  • You share in the excitement of seeing the conservation project unfold before your eyes.

Public or private?

If you’d like your land to become a public wildlife area or park, it’s much easier for a conservation agency to accept a land donation than to accomplish the purchase of land for conservation. Seeking grants or public funding for a purchase can take months or years, while a donation can be approved much more quickly.

Similarly, it’s much easier for a conservation organization to accept a donation of land than to purchase land. Most nonprofits do not have ready funds to purchase lands, nor can they compete for many of the public funding sources for land protection.


It’s best to discuss land gifts with your potential recipient well in advance. Conservation staff can help clarify your wishes and/or suggest changes in gift timing that could be mutually beneficial.

If your land has special long-term management needs, consider donating or bequeathing funds to help cover your recipient’s future expenses associated with the gifted property. To discuss any long-term land stewardship considerations for your land, contact INHF Land Stewardship Director Ryan Schmidt at or 515-288-1846, ext. 13. 

Lots to think about. Let’s talk it through.
It can be hard to sort through your land protection options and tax benefits on a website. We’re here to help you through it. We can visit by phone, in person or on the land. Free. Confidential. No sales pitch. No obligation. Just the information and introductions you need to get started. Contact us.