Posted October 1st, 1998

Advice from Gift Planners in the Field

Over the years, Give & Take has been fortunate to bring you interviews with some of the nation’s most dedicated and successful gift planners. As we celebrate our 35th year, we offer this recap of some of the most useful advice gift planners have shared with Give & Take readers.

Amelia Montjoy, planned giving manager for the World Wildlife Fund, had this to say when we asked her what she feels is most important for gift planning success: “In a phrase, genuinely caring about the people who give. If the gift becomes more important than the giver, then I will be on the wrong track.”

Carl Swansen, director of principal gifts at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told Give & Take what inspires him about his work: “The true spirit of giving that I have encountered in the people I meet. They want to make a difference and are a blessing to other people’s lives.”

When we asked Rick Downey, director of planned giving at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Foundation, to tell us about the most rewarding part of his work in fund raising, he had this to say: “Getting to know the people who give. They really give from the heart. I have developed some ongoing relationships and enjoyed seeing the fruits of some relationships I’ve built.”

Milton Bell, former director of planned giving for the American Bible Society, brought nearly 25 years of experience to our readers in 1993: “I believe that the gift planner is not primarily a salesperson. Rather, the person is a facilitator, providing a professional service assisting donors in reaching their philanthropic objectives while not interfering with their personal financial goals.”

In a two-part interview, Dave Dunlop, a renowned development professional at Cornell University for 38 years, told readers that having a kind and forgiving nature is critical to a gift planner’s Advice from Gift Planners in the Field success: “Unless we can forgive our friends [donors] their faults and appreciate the good things they do, we’re liable to become fakers, to become the kind of people who say things they don’t mean and express things they don’t feel. A fundraiser can get away with that for a day, a week, or maybe even a month, but not much longer. People see through that. A truly forgiving nature enables us to genuinely like people who are less than perfect. It enables us to forgive them their shortcomings and be fully genuine in what we do and say.”

Nancy Perazelli, CFRE, gift planning officer for Drake University, shared the details of her typical day as a gift planner and, in doing so, revealed her commitment to her work and her donors: “My day begins at 7:30 a.m. when I usually have a breakfast meeting with a donor. The rest of my morning is spent following up with donor requests, preparing gift proposals, or finalizing gifts, followed by a luncheon appointment with another donor. My afternoons are generally filled with making donor phone calls or personally delivering gift annuity or trust income checks to donors. [Nancy makes a point to hand-deliver gift annuity and trust income checks to every donor within an 80-mile radius of Des Moines.] I strive to spend 80% of my day visiting with donors either personally or by telephone.”

The publisher of Give & Take is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Give & Take may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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