Last month the University’s Gift Planning unit conducted two estate planning seminars, geared towards women age 40+ who had made past gifts to the University. Provided at no cost to the participants, and featuring local estate planning attorneys and specialists, these seminars were conceived as a way to present the concept of estate planning (and hopefully, subsequent estate gifts to the University) in a setting somewhat more relaxed than your normal estate attorney’s office.
In theory, an excellent idea, thoughtfully planned and carefully executed. In reality, a surprisingly small turnout of women, a handful of men accompanying a few of them, and it seemed the attendance was trending more towards an older demographic. I was surprised to see so few relatively young women in attendance. And it got me to thinking about another trend I’ve noticed.
Over the past ten years, three individuals have notified us of their intent to include the Libraries in their estate planning. Three individuals have entrusted a part of their future estate to ensure the continued success of the Libraries – wonderful news, but only three? In ten years? Surely there are other folks, making estate plans and taking great pleasure in making that decision to bequeath a portion of their estate to create a legacy in the UT Libraries?
Granted, a part of this is that folks have made their plans, but haven’t told us of their intent, for any number of reasons. But I have observed something else, too. People just aren’t as willing or ready to talk about estate planning – wills – making a bequest – as they once were. Whether it is because we are now in a time when we’re all living longer, and therefore not yet thinking about our own mortality, or if it’s because our parents were right, and we are the most self-involved and self-interested generation yet to come along – what it does mean is that those of us in fundraising need to think strategically about getting people to recognize the philanthropic possibilities of a well-planned bequest.
And the possibilities are endless. Some of the happiest moments I’ve had the privilege to share with donors have been when they realize how much impact their planned gift will have on the area they choose to benefit. And to add to their delight, their planned gift is celebrated and appreciated with them, while they can enjoy it.
Estate planning isn’t just for those other people who are older than us. It’s especially germane now, for all of us, given the vagaries of the financial times we’re in. You can get in touch with the Office of Gift Planning for more information. Or get in touch with one of development team here at the Libraries.