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Texas Christian University needed to fund its media convergence center for journalism students. We wanted to renovate an existing building to contain a pooled newsroom combining space for print, online, and broadcast journalism.

We identified two nonexempt charitable trusts as possible partners: The trusts were administered by a local bank and focused on higher education or journalism. Normally, to be funded, you have to apply to each trust individually. But we wanted a pooled grant to create a larger gift than either could make on its own. I knew I needed to get the trust officers to vote together as a committee on grant decisions. So how to do this?

Fortunately, the Bob Schieffer College of Communication has a not-so-secret weapon: veteran CBS broadcaster and TCU graduate Bob Schieffer. I invited the trust officers to the school for a meet and greet. Everyone came, mingled, and took photos with our celebrity graduate. They were delighted.

I described the idea for the media convergence center, showed them renderings, and explained that we would like to combine the trusts' resources for a pooled gift. Schieffer talked about the dramatic ways in which journalism is changing and made the case for how the center would support modern journalism education. The dean emphasized the importance of the project to the college and the university.

The trust committee granted us $500,000 in capital funding. In our region, that's a fairly large gift for a nonexempt charitable trust. Other donors chipped in, and the center is now serving our students and the community. I recommend appealing to bank trusts and seeing how you can encourage them to pool donations like this.

—Dennis Alexander, as told to Ellen Ryan

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