Gifts that Create a Legacy
Planned Giving at the UA Foundation
by Monique Musick
Scott Taylor has experienced many changes at the UA Foundation during the 27 years he has been with the department. His current role as planned giving manager is in an area that didn't even exist when he was first appointed as Executive Director in 1985. Over the years, as both the Foundation itself and the funds they invest and manage have grown, Taylor’s role has grown and changed too. Since 2006, Taylor has been semi-retired; working half time focused on planned giving.
“As I learned more we did more. When I learned about planned giving we started doing planned giving,” said Taylor.
Planned giving refers to a very specific type of donor relationship. There are several different categories of this type of gift, but they all carry some common characteristics. For one these are gifts large enough to significantly affect finances. They are often deferred gifts, meaning they often don’t result in immediate transfer of goods or property. The most common example is a bequest where a donor includes the University of Alaska Foundation in their will. Upon the death of the donor the Foundation receives the pledged gift. Planned gifts may also be life income gifts that pay the donor while they are alive and the university benefits in the future.
Taylor acts as a resource and service center but the majority of fundraising and development work is done at the campus level. He works with staff at campus development offices and helps advise the process. In most cases donors start at their local development office, but occasionally they call or contact Taylor directly and he either works directly with them or re-routes them to a local office.
One way that donors learn about and get interested in planned giving is through a bi-annual newsletter called Foundation For The Future. It is distributed to potential donors based on their age, (over 60) giving history and association with the university. Each newsletter highlights ways of giving and features donors who have recently made a significant life gift to the foundation. The newsletter is sent to 22,000 people and the list grows each year. Each issue is mailed with a response card for requesting more information. In this manner potential donors indicate their interest in giving and development offices can follow up and work with the donors to develop their giving plans.
“It provides the development office with an entry point to contact the donor,” Taylor explained.
Another way that a relationship with potential donors is cultivated is during annual donor seminars held in Fairbanks, Anchorage and sometimes Juneau. Individuals are selected and invited to the seminar which teaches estate planning, taxes and different types of planned gifts. It is a great opportunity to answer questions from potential donors and share resources to assist them in planning.
While there can be substantial financial benefits from making a planned gift, such as avoidance of estate tax, capital gains tax avoidance, or life income payments, most donors give because they believe in the mission and purpose of the University of Alaska. Donors can choose how their gift will be used and often wish to support a specific program, school or type of student. It is the personal connection and meaning of the gift that is most important to the donor.
Gifts come in all forms and shapes. When an estate is gifted, the donor’s home and all of its quirky contents and collections goes to the foundation. Gifts of art, collectibles, musical instruments, camera equipment, land, cash and stock are not unusual. Sometimes cars, boats—even a helicopter—are gifted to the foundation. Real estate is almost always sold but occasionally it is used by the university. For example Grace Schaible donated the land upon which the current home for the UA president is built as well as the house next door to it. One of the most memorable gifts for Taylor was the annual visit from Albert Zuchinni. The old-time miner, known locally as “Shorty,” would bring in a Nalgene bottle full of gold at the end of his cleanup.
“Every fall he’d come in here, an old miner, with the big heavy jar and set it on my desk,” said Taylor.
Regents policy puts a preference on using gifts if possible. Art donations are often displayed in university buildings and equipment and vehicles are used by university departments. Items that cannot be put to use are sold and the revenue put to the donor’s stated purpose.
Taylor believes it is mutually satisfying to bring a motivated donor into a relationship with the Foundation. The donor feels great that they have been able to help support the mission of the university and invest in an institution they believe in. The Foundation directly benefits from the gift and also gets to support the mission of the university. Everybody is happy.
“It’s a great symbiotic relationship,” said Taylor.
There are aspects of Taylor’s personality and beliefs that truly benefit him in his role. He is a friendly, personable man; he's easy to talk to and is a strong listener. Most importantly though, he loves the university and believes deeply in the importance of education. There is a saying that says people give money to people, not places. The ability to foster a comfortable personal relationship with Taylor, or development officers at individual campuses, can make the difference in a person donating or not. Maintaining that relationship is also important.
Donors are all different. Some want recognition, others prefer to go unrecognized. In the case of planned giving, a donor may truly be leaving everything they own to the university upon their death. In 2005 the Legacy Society was established in order to specially recognize those donors who made planned gifts. They receive a plaque and are given special recognition in annual reports, online and in other publications. There are currently 160 members of the Legacy Society. Wills can be changed, and there is a risk in not maintaining a positive relationship with donors. The Legacy Society provides special recognition to planned gift donors and keeps communication channels open.
“The problem with planned gifts from an institutional view is you go through all the work to get a person to name you in their will and then you don’t want to lose contact with them,” said Taylor.
Meet the Planned Giving Staff
Gift Planning Manager
Taylor first came to Alaska when he was stationed in Cordova with the Coast Guard in January 1970. When he completed his service, he went outside for graduate school at the University of Vermont. He read as many books about Alaska as possible during his two years away.
“I really wanted to come back,” said Taylor.
He and his wife moved up to Fairbanks. After a couple years they moved down to Valdez where she was teaching and Taylor worked for the newspaper. They moved back to Fairbanks and Taylor came to work for the university. They have been here ever since. They have three kids, all college graduates themselves, and one a UAF graduate.
Taylor truly is a lifelong learner. He received a bachelor’s in psychology from Bates College in Maine, which is also where he met and married his wife Janet. Then he received his Master’s from Vermont in higher education administration. When he came to work for the university he went back to school again. He received a bachelor’s and then a master’s in natural resource management.
“I chose that because I was a liberal arts major before and I wanted some good hard science. Natural resources offered the widest range of science options. I was able to go and take chemistry, biology, soils—I was fascinated,” said Taylor.
He never really got a job in that field, although his first position with the university was with the land management office, which is sort of related. But he does do a lot of activity outdoors. Taylor plays golf whenever he possibly can. He also enjoys cross-country skiing and biking. He spends lots of time reading and also enjoys crossword puzzles. He could be fully retired, but he has strong ties with the university and its mission and he likes being here.
“It’s important for me to work for an organization that has a transcending purpose. It has to have a purpose that I like. A purpose that I agree with morally. I believe in education with every fiber of my being. It is the salvation of mankind—‘cause nothing else seems to work! I really believe in education and the university is a fun place to be; with a lot of smart people and new things to learn,” said Taylor.