Why I Love Planned Giving

by Gene Christian
Download the Planned Giving Mentor article
February 2005
Volume III, Number 2

In 1984, as a newly hired college administrator, I found myself smack dab in the middle of an aggressive capital campaign. The campaign was off to a dangerously slow start when a wonderfully fascinating retired couple walked into my office with a stock certificate worth $104,000. They happily announced that they would like to exchange the stock certificate for a gift annuity.

Two-Fold Reaction
Being relatively new to the development field, I had two immediate thoughts after this encounter:

First, I must figure out how to get more gifts in this size range to happen! At that time we were doing annual fund appeals, phone campaigns, and president’s council programs. I figured it would take an awfully long time to raise the kind of support that these people had just given with one stock certificate.

My second thought was that I wanted to know these people better. They ultimately became our alumni capital campaign co-chairpersons and what transpired in my interactions with them during the next three years changed my professional life.

Great Stories
I came to realize that I was fascinated by, and drawn to, a generation of people twice removed from my own. The stories they could tell based on the experiences they had were extraordinary.

In my planned giving career, I’ve heard firsthand what Nazi concentration camps were like, a myriad of different ways to survive the Great Depression, and even how to remove an arrow from your shoulder if you happened to have been shot by an Indian in the late 1800s.

Close Friends
During the past 20 years, gift annuity donors have become some of my closest friends. I love delivering checks to them every 90 days, and I am disappointed when they choose to have their payments set up for automatic deposit. The wisdom, insight, and humor retired Americans have imparted to me over the years have made me a better husband, dad, and citizen. The person I am today has been largely shaped by the interactions I’ve had with donors in my planned giving career.

Simply put, I love this age demographic! I can’t think of a more rewarding way to spend my life than helping an extraordinary group of people do extraordinary things for the communities they care so much about–and sometimes solving tax and family planning problems in the process. They truly are America’s greatest generation!

The topic “why I love planned giving” conjures up so many nostalgic memories and re-affirms all over again why there are so very few career choices as deeply rewarding as being a planned giving officer.

Planned giving is a professional discipline few people imaged as a career option 15-20 years ago. According to their website, there are more than 11,000 people supporting the mission of the National Committee on Planned Giving—an organization that didn't exist 22 years ago. Read More

“The Planned Giving School was invaluable...the course not only increased my knowledge of all the planned giving vehicles available, but I also came away with a plan of action.”

Brennan Wood, Dougy Center

“...Our board met and determined that the amount of current bequests is approximately $4.2 million. We simply couldn't have generated these kinds of results, without CEPN.”

Tim Abrahamson, Board Chair, Salem Nazarene Foundation

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