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Volume 5, Issue 1

Investments in Planned Giving Prove Worth

Advancement leaders at community colleges recently honored by CASE credit large bequests with their institution's fundraising success—and encourage others to focus more on planned giving.

Lord Fairfax Community College—with locations in Middletown, Warrenton and Luray, Virginia—recently received a 2015 Educational Fundraising Award for overall improvement. Total support to the college grew from $332,000 in 2012 to $1.92 million in 2014.

Liv Heggoy, executive director of the college's foundation, says most of the total support in 2014 came from a surprise $1.4 million bequest. Charles Ross—a retired computer technician and a veteran of World War II who served in the European Theatre and in the Battle of the Bulge—named Lord Fairfax as a beneficiary of his estate before he passed away at the age of 90 in 2013. In honor of his late son Jeffery, Ross wanted to establish an endowed scholarship to help deserving students at the college who demonstrate strength in character and academic performance.

"This was an absolute surprise gift," Heggoy says. "We have no idea why this man was touched by LFCC or if he or any of his relatives went to the college. But we've been able to significantly increase the number of scholarships we award and establish our first ever fellowship program, the Ross Fellowship for Service and Scholarship."

Heggoy says the unexpected gift has inspired her to focus more on planned giving and bequests of all sizes. She notes that the college received $5,000 as a beneficiary of a donor's life insurance policy last year.

"I think a lot of us in community college fundraising are focusing more on issues of planned giving and estate planning," Heggoy says. "When we get an extraordinary gift from someone we don't know, I just imagine what can happen when we do know someone."

Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Maryland, also received a 2015 Educational Fundraising Award for overall improvement—and another for overall performance. Total support to the college grew from $805,000 in 2012 to more than $2 million in 2014.

Janice Murphy, director of development, attributes some of the increase in total support to a recent $1.3 million bequest from a longtime donor to the college. Lois E. Brunkhorst, who spent 33 years as a school nurse in New Jersey before retiring to southern Maryland, had previously funded a scholarship to help nursing students at the college with financial need.

"She was a very frugal person," Murphy says of Brunkhorst. "She delighted in amassing a significant bequest to leave to the college. She's done so much-from endowing a scholarship to serving on the foundation board-so she definitely had a strong connection to the college."

To honor Brunkhorst, the college renamed its Academic and Administrative Building as Brunkhorst Hall in March 2015.

Like Heggoy at Lord Fairfax, Murphy says the recent bequest has her thinking more about planned giving.

"As fundraisers, we're here to connect with people and get to know the stories of our donors like [Brunkhorst]," Murphy says. "I think education is a natural fit when talking about estate planning. It's where people's imagination goes when they want to pay homage to a loved one or set up an estate."

To learn more about bequests, browse the CASE resources about legacy and planned gifts. (A CASE log-in may be required to view some of the materials.)

This article is from the July 2015 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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