Though Arthur Richardson (a pseudonym is used to protect this donor’s identity) had a history of giving to his alma mater, gift planning officers at Cornell University were quite surprised by the magnitude of Mr. Richardson’s most recent gift.
Ms. Gwen Scott, also a graduate of Cornell and now a gift planning officer for its development department, shares the story of this donor’s generosity.
THE DONOR: The 77-year-old graduate of Cornell University has consistently attended class reunions since 1976. Cornell is a family tradition for the Richardsons — two of his four children, as well as his father, brother, and a niece, are all Cornellians. Mr. Richardson has served as his class Secretary since 1991 and occasionally attends Cornell events held in his region of the country.
THE GIFT: A $1 million charitable remainder annuity trust, funded with highly appreciated securities.
DONOR’S HISTORY OF GIVING: Since 1956, Mr. Richardson has given a total of $41,000. He is a pooled income fund donor and additions to that fund make up most of his lifetime gifts. The largest outright gift was $1,300. His gifts usually coincided with his class reunion campaigns.
THE GIFT’S BACKGROUND: Due to his declining health, Mr. Richardson’s wife initiated the gift on his behalf. They wanted to complete the gift during his lifetime. After calling the university, Mrs. Richardson was referred to Gwen Scott. The Richardsons and their attorney worked with Ms. Scott, arranging the one-life trust, with Mr. Richardson as income beneficiary.
The couple appreciated the ability to remove this asset from their estate as well as the opportunity for Mr. Richardson to be recognized during his lifetime.
LESSONS LEARNED: Ms. Scott attributed this gift in part to the natural life cycle of this couple. They are in the process of completing comprehensive financial and estate plans, which in- clude gifts to his alma mater and hers.
“This was not a donor from which a gift of this magnitude was ever expected, and therefore never asked for,” said Ms. Scott. Mr. Richardson did, however, receive periodic communications on charitable gift planning topics as a recipient of the university’s gift planning newsletter.
Explaining her feelings about gifts like Mr. Richardson’s, Ms. Scott reminds gift planning officers to remember that seeds sprout best when you’re not watching. . . never stop planting them.. . you never know where flowers will blossom.