I recently had the pleasure and honor to address a large group at the unveiling of a brand new simulation lab at Crafton Hills Community College. Why, you might ask was I addressing the group. Well, a client of mine donated a sum of money to the college so that Paramedics, EMTs and firemen could get even better training than they had in the past. My client’s name was placed on a very nice plaque in the lobby commemorating his gift.
And now you might ask “Well that’s dandy but what does that have to do with me?” Let me continue. Recently I was talking to another client about the little speech I was to give and she expressed the desire to donate to her alma mater. “But I don’t have lots of money to give.” was her worry.
You don’t need to be a Rockefeller, Gates or Forbes to do a tremendous amount of good in your community. I explained to her that I have been fortunate to be the bearer of glad tidings to hospitals, churches, colleges and universities, organizations to research diseases and others. The gifts ranged from $100 to over $3,000,000. Each and every one of the recipients was most grateful to receive the gifts. Funding is hard to come by these days. There are thousands of institutions and groups all after the same dollars to fund their cause. There is certainly not a surplus of money to handle all of the needs. Building a new library on the university’s campus or adding a wing to the pediatric ward of the hospital are great and wonderful things but after they’re built what about the money for books, for furniture, a drinking fountain or for the tree in the patio to shade the waiting parents? Planned giving coordinators for these organizations will be quick to tell you that NO gift is too small.
Giving can be easy and painless. You can leave a gift through your estate plan so that it is not distributed until you are gone. Various investments with beneficiary designations or trusts using insurance policies or Certificates of Deposit can allow you to use your money or the interest it generates while you are alive and then your gift goes to the facility or organization of your choice. There is not nearly enough room here to discuss the many, many ways to give, both large and small. Under certain conditions many organizations will pay for the legal or set up fees in the establishment of the gift.
Some of my clients have requested that their donation be made anonymously however many want some form of public recognition either to honor their family name, a parent or grandparent or to acknowledge their own generosity. Public recognition can be made in any number of ways. Some can be as simple as the pastor of the church announcing to the congregation the church’s receipt and an announcement in the church bulletin. The donor can be listed in the college’s annual fund raising announcement. Your name can be acknowledged on a plaque, large or small, or you can buy a brick or tile with your name inscribed and placed in a wall or on a walkway with other donors, have a specific collection in the library in your honor or even have the entire building or a specific portion named after you.
Some of these things require substantial donated funds but others can be had for less than a couple of Saturday nights out on the town. I kid with my clients that the larger the donation the larger the type size. Many times the giving coordinators for the institution or facility to which you want to donate can combine your modest gift with the modest gift of others to accomplish great things.
A most colorful individual that I had the pleasure to deal with wanted to donate to the high school he attended. The high school was in the process of building a new gymnasium. He didn’t have hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands as did some of the other donors but he did have a couple of thousand dollars to donate. He donated the money with the expresses condition that it be in recognition of the many times he enjoyed a smoke and ditched a class. Under his instructions the school placed a small engraved sign over the door to the boys restroom “All the furnishings within donated through the generosity of John Q. Smith, Class of ‘74 for the many hours out of class”. He used to brag that others built the castle but he provided the throne.
Remember, NO gift is too small or insignificant.