Magazine article Momentum

Planned Giving: An Ongoing Investment in the Future

Magazine article Momentum

Planned Giving: An Ongoing Investment in the Future

Article excerpt

Planned-giving programs take time to mature so plant the seeds now for future growth

Incarnate Word Academy, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, was established in 1871 by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. The school offers educational opportunities for pre-K through high school children and has a total current enrollment of 920.

During its 136-year history, IWA has enjoyed the support of parents and benefactors, who have committed time, talent and treasure and thus enabled the school to offer excellence in education to students from various socio-economic backgrounds desiring a Catholic education.

Over the years, the school held fundraising projects in the form of barbecues, raffles and auctions to meet smaller, immediate needs. The next step was an annual fund drive, inviting parents, alumni and friends to contribute toward operational and physical plant needs. Over the years, capital campaigns were launched, as needed, for construction and major improvements. Today, IWA has an ongoing major gifts program for donors who can make significant contributions for enhancement of educational programs and facilities and for the funding of endowments. Planned giving, one of our newest ventures, has taken a longer time to mature because it is future-oriented in nature.

Evolution of Planned Giving

In the mid-1990s, the Incarnate Word Academy Foundation was established to receive gifts for the school and to manage endowments. The administration grappled with the idea and the possibility of starting a planned-giving program as a means of encouraging donors to include IWA in their estate-planning arrangements. Subsequently, several questions surfaced. Was this the right time to begin? How would we implement the program? Would we be able to afford the cost? If we needed technical assistance from consultants, how would we find and choose them? These were questions with no easy answers.

The decision to launch a plannedgiving program was determined by factors and goals that were important to us. First, we had a strong commitment to ensure a future for the school. second, we realized we could provide friends and benefactors with opportunities to practice Christian stewardship and to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others through estate planning and bequests. A planned-giving program presented a means to achieve these important goals.

As a way of preparing for this new venture, we attended conferences and seminars, engaged in research, visited with professionals in the field and joined the newly formed local Planned Giving Council. Our next step was to contract with a professional consultant to guide us in setting up a workable plan.

We were fortunate in finding a highly qualified, committed professional with certifications in fundraising, law and accounting right in Corpus Christi. With his help we engaged in the following:

1. Developed an administrative structure

2. Appointed a planned-giving director

3. Adopted a policy manual

4. Set up a program that included:

* Communication of giving opportunities through existing publications on topics such as wills, charitable gift annuities, life insurance, retirement funds and real estate, which would assist those interested in planning their estates

* Communication of giving opportunities through direct mailings

* Addition of planned-giving pages to the school's Web site (www.iwacc.org)

* Monthly meetings with consultant (some in person and some by telephone) for administration and staff

* Ongoing assistance from the consultant in person, by phone, fax and email

* Establishment of standards of stewardship recognizing donors, present and future

Administrative Structure

Because planned-giving contributions generally are placed in the Incarnate Word Academy Foundation, the foundation trustees approved a "Planned-Giving Policy Manual" to guide the acceptance, investment and distribution of contributions. …

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