Welcome to the LACGP Newsletter. This e-newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis. The e-newsletter provides links to this page. Please see below for the items that appeared in the November 2020 issue.

LACGP Piloting New Assessment for CGP

by Patience Boudreaux

Not to brag, but as a member of LACGP, I pride myself on utilizing best practices within our field, and I know I am not alone in this sentiment. Now, in an environment where “how we do our work” feels like it has changed dramatically, and it is not clear if these changes will be enduring, I found myself intrigued by an effort within the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (CGP) to document just what our best practices should be through their National Standards for Gift Planning Success (NSGPS). This has been a multiple-year process for CGP to identify not just what best gift planning practices are but how we as members and councils can assess our adherence to these practices. You can watch a video on their site explaining this effort (it’s under 2 minutes and well worth your time). 

With this in mind, LACGP is helping CGP pilot an effort to identify how councils as a whole fit within the NSGPS. I invite each of you to complete this survey and enter the group code “LACGP” to have your answers included in our report. Upon receiving the results from the survey, we may then identify where we as a council really shine (go us!) and strategize where we need to go from there—exploring beneficial topics for our general membership meetings, webinars, mini round tables, and the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference (May 25-27, 2021). Additionally, by completing the survey, you’ll receive an individual report of your own personal results to help you suggest topics of future interest.

So much of our work with donors and clients feels instinctual at this point in our careers, but our instincts as gift planners were developed in a pre-pandemic era. I am thankful to have this resource to help me focus in on the essence of my role and hope you will join me in identifying how we as a SoCal professional learning community can improve!

Before taking the survey, please look below:

  • On the first page of the survey, you have the option to enter your name and organization. That information is not required. Please answer the other questions to help us analyze our results. The most important field is Group Code—be sure to enter “LACGP” under group code so you’re included in our report.
  • The council will not see individual responses to the survey. We will only receive aggregate responses for everyone who uses the group code “LACGP.”

There are actually three surveys available: Support from the Top, The Ability and Capacity to Execute, and Donor-Centric Engagement and Management. Initially, LACGP is focusing on Donor-Centric Engagement and Management, but you are welcome to take all three surveys and can enter group code “LACGP” if you’d like to help us gauge where our council stands in these other important areas.

Don’t Let This Happen to You or the Ones You Love

by Kimberley Valentine

For this article, I thought it might be important to start at the beginning.  Why we do what we do and how we can make our donors better donors, better planners and ultimately taking steps to support your mission in the most impactful way possible.

Isn’t it always easy to read the news and think “oh that would never happen to me?” and yet in a most recent series of articles I found myself thinking “how could this have happened to him?”  I’m referring of course to revered actor Chadwick Boseman who passed earlier this year and left a huge hole in the hearts and spirit of a generation.  The more recent news bearing his name alludes to the fact that Boseman died without the appropriate estate plan in place as his widow opened a probate case in the County of Los Angeles last month. 

How does this happen? 

As the story unfolds, a young man, diagnosed 4 years ago with a serious and potentially fatal cancer, subsequently undergoes multiple rounds of treatment and surgery, working in spite of it and in many senses producing his most beloved characters, The Black Panther, Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall; while undergoing treatment. He had time to plan, time to make hard decisions, to update and review and revise existing plans.

In this story it begs the question, where were his advisors?  Why didn’t one of the many who were his support system and team counsel Boseman to have a plan?  How could they have protected his estate from the lengthy and costly probate process?  There is some evidence that not all of his estate is ending up in probate BUT again, how can we help our donors and prospective donors be engaged and/or remain engaged in their own planning process?

And what has this got to do with you, the gift planning officer?

It goes to the heart of what we do, sharing sound advice about the importance of wills and living trusts, of taking the time when you have the time to plan and ensure your loved ones and charities are protected.  Learn how to talk to and to listen to your donors.  What are they most fearful of?  What do they hope to accomplish? How can you help them accomplish their goals? 

Are you asking the important questions and more importantly, working with your donors to find solutions through support of your organization?  How could appropriate counsel have allowed the Boseman estate to avoid probate and provide gifts 

  • Why?
    • Passion for impact giving based on vision and mission
  • How?
    • Multiple vehicles but at the heart – relationship to your mission, desire to impact and support
  • What? 
    • What does your donor wish to accomplish, what are their goals and how can you help them realize those goals?
  • Who?
    • “The family” – loyal, similar values and honor loyalty, true inspiration from your mission

Advice for you and for your donors: 

1)     Don’t wait, it is never too early to create a basic estate plan

2)     Don’t let it lay fallow – talk with your attorney on a regular basis and update regularly and when you experience life changes

3)     Share these thoughts with your donor.  Help them understand how important a basic plan can be, whether an avoidance of probate, specific articulation of goals and values or if nothing more to ensure someone is on tap to help care for their affairs when that time comes.

4)     Share stories of what can go wrong, make it personal

5)     Educate how valuable gifts to charity can be to leverage personal giving and the creation of a beautiful legacy for their next generations

6)     Above all else – be part of the trusted team – don’t let our donors make the mistake of Chadwick Boseman – plan and protect your own legacy

Become the trusted confidante, listen to your donors, ask questions and help your donors make the most impactful gift they can. 

Q&A With Cynthia Hizami

All of our lives became upside-down in March. For many of us, our work lives became totally new. We had to learn new ways of connecting with donors and colleagues, and had to figure out something as simple as how to pick up mail from the office and write acknowledgment letters to our donors! LACGP sat down (virtually) with Cynthia Hizami, Director of Planned Giving, West Coast for Jewish National Fund, and Education Chair for LACGP, and spoke with her about how the pandemic has affected her professional life.

How has your work life changed in COVID?

I’m on the phone all the time. Like, all the time. With donors, other staff, everyone. I used to start my day once a week at 7:30 a.m. to connect with colleagues on the east coast, but now it’s literally every day because I’m home and there’s no real reason not to. The phone will ring and I’ll just answer it. I had a conference call with a colleague back east and a local donor this morning at 7:30 a.m. My colleague had called and I texted the donor who I knew got up early, and she joined in. I Zoom a lot with staff. With donors, maybe 50% will Zoom with me. I’ll always offer it, and if they accept, that’s great. When I want to show a donor an illustration of a charitable gift, Zoom is very helpful. But the older donors often don’t have an interest in using Zoom.

Are you marketing differently?

We have not been marketing differently. Our fiscal year ended September 30 and the new one began October 1. We are making some changes now that our new fiscal year began. We’re having a strategic planning meeting to discuss this. Things are different in the pandemic, so we need to make changes. We used to get a decent response rate from our national mailings. I would hear from maybe 100 potential donors after a mailing. Now I may hear from only two—and our mailings go to a huge number of people. We may cut down on the amount of mailings.

How are you “visiting” donors?

The calls take longer. There’s always a 15-20 minute “catching up” portion of the call at the beginning. Also the donors are home and isolated, and so they are thrilled to hear from me and want to talk a lot.

Have your planned giving results slowed?

Not even a little bit. We’re receiving the same types of gifts, such as Charitable Gift Annuities, Donor Advised Funds [Jewish National Fund has its own DAF program], and gifts of stock. IRAs have slowed because of the CARES Act and donors don’t need to take distributions this year. Overall we’ve seen an increase in gifts by 7-12%. Since fixed-income investments are so low right now, CGAs are very attractive. Back in March when the quarantine order began, I had a huge uptick in people asking about wills and trusts.

What do you know now that you wish you had known back in February?

I wish I had invested in Zoom! I had closer relationships with donors than I realized because they call me all the time now. I cover a large geographic area, and so it’s a large donor base. As soon as I hang up, the phone rings and it’s another donor calling.

We used to do events and presentations on a regional level, but now there are no borders (since everything is done virtually), so whenever there is an educational event anywhere in the organization, any of our donors around the world can “attend” and participate.

My organization is putting on tons of events from cooking classes to yoga, to talks about water conservation issues in Israel, and virtual “tours” of Israel. The possibilities are seemingly endless!