This month we are reinstating the popular Gift Planner Profile and we are pleased that Nancy Perazelli, CFRE, gift planning officer for Drake University, has agreed to share with our readers.
G&T: What led you to the field of planned giving?
Ms. Perazelli: I was working as business manager for the Catholic Council for Social Concern, Inc. (formerly known as Catholic Charities) when my associate Chuck Roth realized our organization needed a development program. We recognized that we knew nothing about fund raising, so we asked several nonprofits in our community about where to get fund-raising education. Eventually, I attended the National Planned Giving Institute courses offered by Robert F. Sharpe and Company in the early 1970s. This was my very first exposure to planned giving.
G&T: Over the past 20 years, how has planned giving evolved in your opinion?
Ms. Perazelli: Certain aspects of planned giving have become more complex and technical, but I have also seen more emphasis placed on donor relations and donor stewardship. More time is being spent on “high touch” rather than “high tech” fund raising.
G&T: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Ms. Perazelli: Helping people do better by doing good. There’s nothing that can top the personal satisfaction that comes from helping people become the philanthropists they never thought they could be.
G&T: Describe a typical day for you as a gift planning officer.
Ms. Perazelli: 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.
G&T: You have inspired many gift planners over the years. Who have been your mentors?
Ms. Perazelli: Bob Sharpe, Sr. was certainly an inspiring mentor as I began in this field. As I mentioned before, the Sharpe seminars gave me the technical planned giving knowledge I needed. Another key person who influenced me in my professional development was Colonel Andy Miller of the Salvation Army. He has such enthusiasm for development and planned giving and stressed the personal side of fund raising. Colonel Miller instilled in me the fire and passion for this great career that I still enjoy and have today. Donors often comment that it is evident that I love what I do.
G&T: In addition to your professional involvement with nonprofits, you are also involved with several other charitable organizations in your community. Do you find this enriches your work in planned giving?
Ms. Perazelli: Absolutely. I believe service is the rent we pay for our space on earth. It is very important for gift planners to be active and give back to the community that supports them. After all, we need to understand firsthand the warm satisfaction that comes from the joy of giving.
Nancy Perazelli, CFRE, has been gift planning officer for Drake University in Des Moines since 1988. Prior to that, Ms. Perazelli was director of planned giving for the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, where she worked for nearly 20 years. Her list of awards and charitable leadership positions are too lengthy to print in Give & Take, but here are a few: president of the Central Iowa Chapter of NSFRE in 1985 and 1986, and voted that chapter’s first Outstanding Fund-raising Executive in 1986; board member of the Hospice of Central Iowa; member of the 1995 and 1991 Governor’s Inaugural Committees; and a charter member of Drake University’s Heritage Society.
Ms. Perazelli was quick to point out in our interview that although gift planning does take up much of her time, she does make time for fun as the official scorer for the Drake Women’s Basketball Team. It should come as no surprise that she excels in her favorite pastime: Ms. Perazelli was chosen the official scorer for the 1995 Women’s NCAA Final Four Tournament in Minneapolis.