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My Dad Cancelled His Donations

Viken Mikaelian and his dad, circa 1957 | gift annuity

I remember when my dad was worried about running out of money when he reached 90 and decided to stop donating.

I said, “Dad, you are sitting on Apple stock. Why don’t you donate some, avoid capital gains tax, get a deduction, and receive guaranteed income for life—some of it tax-free?” 

“Is that legal?” he asked.

Your “Sophisticated” Donor

I chuckle every time I hear a nonprofit tell me, “But our donors are sophisticated and we have to treat them differently.” I wonder if they have really surveyed their donors or are they just assuming just because their grads had high SAT scores. I bet most would prefer Coors Lite to Lost Abbey Cable Car Kriek.

My dad was one of those so called “sophisticated” donors many nonprofits claim they have. He did his fellowship at Johns Hopkins and Surgery for over 40 years at Thomas Jefferson Hospital here in Philadelphia. Same hospital where I had my cancer taken out done (negative so far), same floor, and likely same surgical room. One of the nurses worked with my dad. My surgeon missed my dad by about 2 years from becoming his intern.

Growing His Tomatoes

So after 30 years of receiving Gift Annuity “junk mail” (sorry) from several nonprofits dad supported, he never “got it”. Speaking of sophisticated, his pastime was watching reruns of the Lucy Show and growing his tomatoes.  And he shopped at Wall-Mart and drove a used car. Sophisticated. Pfui.

Now he “got it”. Why? Because I ditched the legal jargon and talked in a normal language. I oversimplified. I’ll never understand why many still hire PhD’s and JD’s  to write marketing copy. I guess it’s the alphabet soup after their names that impresses them. Their “marketing” pieces come out sounding like a legal dictionary. There is a huge difference between attorneys and marketers. An attorney protects and structures deals.  Marketers, like me, broadcasts the opportunities for such deals. Same goes for hiring a calculator or newsletter company to do your planned giving marketing.

By the way, our tagline for a Gift Annuity direct mail campaign is a board member shouting, “A guaranteed paycheck for life? What’s not to like?” Not sophisticated enough?

Almost Made It

My dad almost made it to 90, but his words “Is that legal?” still resonate in my head and put a smile on my face.

And yes, that is me and my dad in the picture above, circa 1957. The picture below is a month before surgery, 2017.

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Small sales pitch (you knew it was coming): We offer a Gift Annuity Campaign with landing pages, calculator, and direct mail.

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