Council celebrates planned giving, love for mankind

Council celebrates planned giving, love for mankind
Lori Anderson, Mission House; Beverly Flanagan, BBVA Compass and president-elect; Jill Workman, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

The Planned Giving Council of Northeast Florida is celebrating 25 years of working together to help nonprofits enrich the community. And here’s the little known secret they want to make public – everyone can be a philanthropist.

The word “philanthropist” often conjures up images of the wealthy, like Warren Buffet and Melinda and Bill Gates, making million-dollar gifts that change the world. But, historically the word has a humbler and more personal meaning. The origin of the word “philanthropy” is Greek and means “love for mankind.”

“Any one of us can be a philanthropist by being a strategic giver,” said Cliff Evans, outgoing president. “Philanthropic giving addresses our highest concerns – our mortality, our families and our legacy after we’re gone. It helps us answer the ultimate question of why each of us is here – what difference do we want to make?”

So, what are planned gifts among other forms of giving? That’s the question the local Planned Giving Council demystifies for its members, the organizations they serve, and those in the community who may consider helping nonprofit organizations.

Twenty-five years ago a group of people all working in some area of planned giving – estate and tax planning, financial planning and charitable giving – came together to discuss how they could support each other in their efforts to guide donors in making decisions that meet the donors’ personal and charitable interests. The group was led by Denis Plumb, who was responsible at the time for planned giving efforts to support the Diocese of St. Augustine for The Catholic Church of North Florida. Members represented the insurance, legal, banking and nonprofit sectors.

Those involved in planned giving efforts for their nonprofits saw their role as working as advocates or stewards for individuals as they worked with their accountants, financial planners and attorneys to plan what would happen to funds they may accumulate throughout their lives. Planned gifts, more than any other type of giving, are based on trust in the people advising the donor on how to make the gift and in the organization to which they are making the gift, because they are gifts based on money the donor has or will accumulate throughout life and beyond the donor’s life.

“We wanted to learn the technical side of planned giving,” Plumb said. “You can’t be sitting in front of a donor and say ‘I’ll get back to you’ because you don’t understand how planned gifts work and then expect the donor to trust you.”

A group of planned giving officers, lawyers, estate planning professionals, financial advisers, trust officers and consultants all working together might seem unlikely. After all, they are all looking for someone to “buy” their product over the competition’s.

“The donor pool in Jacksonville at the high income level is small, and we’re all working with pretty much the same donors,” Plumb acknowledged. “But that’s the very reason we’re not in competition. We understand that donors are individuals and have their own interests and passions, so it only makes sense to work together for the good of each individual donor.”

The council is also a good way for planned giving people to educate attorneys and insurance people. “A bequest in a will is the easiest planned gift,” Plumb said. “Our hope is that an attorney will understand planned gifts enough to at least ask clients if they would like to leave something in their will for their church or other organizations that they care about.”

Such was the case when attorneys from Fisher, Tousey, Leas and Ball helped Grady and Becky Parker set up a $2 million bequest to The Community Foundation as an unrestricted gift, with the proviso that 20 percent be used to improve the quality of life for senior citizens, especially those facing financial hardships. When Becky passed away, Grady accelerated the plan by funding half the gift they had intended to leave in their will.

A quarter of a century later, the local Planned Giving Council has enjoyed a year of celebration for what it has achieved for its membership and for local donors and nonprofits. During its end-of-year meeting on May 10, at San Jose Country Club, members reflected on what the organization means to them.

“It is a good professional education experience and a great networking opportunity,” said Jill Workman with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We don’t have a formal planned giving program yet, so this helps me figure out how I can begin to add this to my list of ways to engage donors in our work,” said Lori Anderson, executive director, Mission House at the Beaches.

Grady Parker in his garden at his condominium complex

Grady Parker in his garden at his condominium complex

The council came full circle in its 25th year under the leadership of Evans, who is the planned giving officer for the Diocese of St. Augustine, just as Plumb was when she formed the local Planned Giving Council. Evans was recognized for his efforts by Christine Bell, CTFA, AEP, trust officer, Cypress Trust Company, during the May 10 luncheon. Bell was one of the original founding members of the council 25 years ago.

Sharon Clark, director, individual engagement, United Way of Northeast Florida, is the incoming president. “I hope we can be even more proactive in offering planned giving information and support to our community in the future,” she said.

“Without a planned giving initiative, organizations miss the opportunity to create a sustainable revenue stream for the future,” Clark said. “Both organizations’ and donors’ lives are changed by giving dollars that last in perpetuity.”

Ideas being considered are a speaker’s bureau that community organizations can tap for information, increased efforts with the Estate Planning Council, Association of Fundraising Professionals and Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida and presenting the 9th Annual Planned Giving Symposium for the professional development of their members.

“This is a very philanthropic, caring community and very faith-based,” Evans said. “We hope that readers of The Resident will be willing to ask themselves how they’d like to be remembered, not only by their families, but also by their community and the causes they care the most about so that they can make provisions to take care of them.”

Planned Giving Council 2018-19 officers are Sharon Clark, president; Beverly Flanagan, president elect; Cliff Evans, past president; Ken Thompson, treasurer; and John Zell, secretary.

Any organizations or individuals wishing to learn more about the Planned Giving Council of Northeast Florida are encouraged to visit their website,, or call Belinda Robinson, council administrator, (904) 887-3843, [email protected]

By Karen J. Rieley
Resident Community News

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