Posted March 1st, 1999

Learning Gift Planning on the Job

In this month’s issue “Gift Planner Profile” we talk with Ms. Marty Matula, CFP, CFRE, executive vice president of Morton Plant Mease Hospital Foundation. Ms. Matula has played a key role in establishing and advancing the Foundation’s gift planning program during her 13-year tenure.

Give & Take: How did you come to work in the gift planning arena?

Matula: My background is in sociology and marketing. When I came here in 1986 as assistant to the president, I was asked to look at the development program but had no intention of becoming directly involved in fund raising because I didn’t know anything about it. But I soon realized there was a real need for a structured planned giving program. As the program was established over time, I became manager of planned giving, then director of planned giving, then vice president of the Foundation, and I now serve as executive vice president. So I was really fortunate to be able to help build the planned giving program from the very beginning.

Give & Take: Much has been said about the importance of institutional teamwork in development. As the executive vice president, what do you feel is your role in the development process?

Matula: A planned gift is very much a team effort, and each team member has a particular role to play. We have a staff of six and we each have a specific area of concentration. At this point I concentrate on the million dollar and up donors. We try to secure at least one million-dollar donor gift every year. We have a director of planned giving who focuses mainly on building relationships with donors and assuring we are responsive to professional advisors in the community. Good relations with advisors is especially important when, as in our case, nearly all of our donors reside in our local community. We also have a planned giving manager who focuses primarily on preparing illustrations and communicating with advisors about what is going on at the hospital. Another team member focuses on the care and needs of our donors. She is very effective at raising donors’ sights and is instrumental in the completion of many of our largest gifts.

Give & Take: Can you tell us about a particularly memorable gift that you have been involved with recently?

Matula: In 1992 a donor’s attorney contacted us. The attorney told us his client had the capacity and desire to do a million-dollar gift with us. We never knew the donor’s name. Later on we were working directly with a gentleman who wanted to make a significant gift and it turned out to be the same donor. We really had no idea that they were the same person until about two years ago. The donor eventually gave us one million dollars to name the new lobby in the hospital. The gift was a planned gift–a gift annuity–that he funded with property that he owned. The whole process involved several Foundation team members, board members, professional advisors, and hospital team members. The donor is extremely happy and may do more because of his satisfaction with the handling of this gift.

We also have a donor who had only given a total of about $100 over the years. After some personal one-on-one cultivation, all of a sudden she funded a $200,000 gift annuity. And now she has done seven gift annuities, each at the $200,000 level.

Give & Take: What do you think sets planned gift donors apart from other types of donors?

Matula: Planned gift donors are special because they are not just writing us a check, they are oftentimes giving us their assets. This is a big difference. In planned giving, you really have to build the relationship with a donor over a period of time. You have to have a lot of meetings, a lot of talk, a lot of education, and a lot of training. In planned giving, meeting the donors’ needs comes first. Once you do that, donors will trust you and listen to your ideas.

Give & Take: What advice do you have for those in the nonprofit world who may aspire to an executive level position?

Matula: I would tell them that success doesn’t happen overnight. It is a step-by-step process. I would tell them not to get overwhelmed about knowing everything about the technical aspects of gift planning. It is good to have a broad overview of the technical information, but always remember there are others to ultimately handle the structure. Your job is primarily to educate and cultivate the people who may ultimately make a critical difference in the financial health of your institution.

Give & Take: What aspect of your job gives you the most personal and professional satisfaction?

Matula: I believe the best part of my job is meeting with donors and prospective donors and telling them about the wonderful things that our hospital is doing to improve the health of individuals in the community. The joy of gift planning is working with people and helping them accomplish something they never thought they could possibly do. It is a great thing to know you are helping people do things that last forever. I also see my role in teaching and encouraging up and coming fundraisers to aspire to a higher personal and professional level of gift planning.

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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