One day I was sitting in my office and I got a call that there was a donor who had come to Children’s Hospital and wanted to meet with one of the major gifts officers. I had the good fortune to go and meet with them.
The Craumers were a lovely couple who lived in Arizona. But they came back to Pittsburgh because they had decided to make a gift.
As they told the story, it transported me back to the time that they had spent at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a time that is famous in Pittsburgh’s history—a time when Jonas Salk was working to develop the polio vaccine. Carol Ann Craumer, their only daughter, was in the hospital at the time. Unfortunately, she was in an iron lung. The Craumers knew that Dr. Salk was working hard. They knew that it was too late for their only child. She spent her last days and months in that iron lung.
The Craumers wanted to do something special for Children’s Hospital and decided that they would make a bequest. They signed the documents that day. At the time I couldn’t have known how large the gift would be or when it would be realized, but I surely knew that these were people with the best of intentions and the desire to make an impact following their own deaths.
Many years later the bequest was realized and it was significant. The hospital decided to create an endowed chair in Carol’s name—The Carol Ann Craumer Endowed Chair in Pathology—a gift that has strengthened the Department of Pathology and has provided stable unrestricted research funding now for more than 20 years. The Craumer name will live on into perpetuity and Carol will always be remembered.
There are so many stories like this where an individual or family are motivated to provide a philanthropic gift through their will and bequest.
In the next 20 years, an estimated $30 trillion will be inherited by the next generation.
Someone in your circle of donors might like to make a large gift, but just doesn’t have the cash or assets to fulfill their dream right now. But you can help them make it happen for the future. Fundraising is all about planting a seed and creating a dream with your prospects and donors. Listen to your donor, what is it that they are telling you? It is all about them…with proper cultivation and your own interest, you can help them make their wishes happen. Continue to work and build the relationship as strongly as you can.
Wills and bequests are the easiest of the planned giving techniques. A bequest is a designation in a will or living trust that provides a gift following the prospect or donor’s lifetime. A bequest is revocable, meaning that the donor retains full control over their resources during their lifetime, should they need them, or irrevocable depending on how the bequest is established. The estate is entitled to an estate tax deduction.
There are many ways to leave a gift to the charity of one’s choice…as a development officer, should you find yourself in the position of working with a donor who wants to leave a charitable gift, you can usually find an expert within your own organization. The donor is also most likely working with a financial planner or an attorney. There are also other resources in any community to help.
A bequest is one way to provide a gift to the organization. Planned giving vehicles typically include advantages like these:
· A current year tax deduction for gifts that are made in the future.
· Favorable tax treatment of assets within the vehicle.
· A consolidation of donation substantiation receipts.
Take the time to review common planned giving vehicles that include:
· Establishing a private foundation,
· Donor advised funds established through a public charity or through large financial institutions,
· Charitable remainder trusts that provide the donor or others with cash flow while obtaining a current year personal income tax deduction, then providing a gift for the charity, and
· Charitable lead trusts designed to result in tax free gifts to the donor’s family as well as the charity.
Other types of easily established donations include a life insurance policy, IRA or other qualified retirement fund.
Throughout my career I have felt that whether I was involved with a donor for a planned gift or for a large or small current gift, that prospects and donors need to have my full understanding and attention to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. I always try to put myself in their place.
G.J. Tankersley once said: Empathy is the ability to share other people’s feelings, to see things, even if you don’t agree with them, from their point of view. This is important in virtually all phases of human interaction, and extremely important for any large organization. You can’t underestimate the need to handle interpersonal relations well and empathy is the quality that counts most in that.
Rosalyn "Roz" Markovitz has had an active career in development for more than 35 years. She began as a volunteer and quickly realized that she liked the "art of the ask" and that fundraising was her passion. While working at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Roz led efforts with KDKA and the Pittsburgh Press to raise funds for free care. She handled planned giving, and secured multiple major gifts. Strategic planning with donors is a major strength. She was the Outstanding Fund Raising Executive of the Year and was active in the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, serving for several years as the local chair. She worked with the University of Pittsburgh, Magee Womens Hospital, ARC Allegheny and many other non-profits. She is currently an Associate with Gayle Tissue Strategies.