Welcome to the LACGP Newsletter. This e-newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis. The newsletter provides links to this page. Please see below for the items that appeared in the May 2022 issue.

Looking Back on My First Western Regional Planned Giving Conference

By Aaron Levinson

In 2011 I had been in planned giving for only a year and looked forward to attending my first Western Regional Planned Giving Conference. I had been told by veteran attendees how amazing the conference was and that I should go. And it did not disappoint!

From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed by everyone I encountered. I really felt like I was part of a family.

I remember walking into the large hall on Thursday morning for the opening keynote speaker, Chris Yates (who was then working at Stanford). First, though, there were welcoming and introductory remarks. I remember thinking that each person involved was so professional and seemed so knowledgeable and that I could learn a lot from all of them. And Chris’ speech was inspiring, of course.

Over the course of the conference, I attended so many wonderful and informative break-out sessions. I was overloaded with information that I knew I would be able to take back to my organization and impress my boss and colleagues!

I made great friends and contacts at the conference with whom I am still in touch. And I enjoyed walking around the sponsors’ and exhibitors’ booths and hearing about their services and how they could help me in my work. The swag they gave out was pretty cool, too!

Even the meals were enjoyable, and what’s not to like about the Westin Hotel in Costa Mesa? It is a great venue for the conference.

Finally, the closing keynote was by John Kobara, who was then at the California Community Foundation. John delivered one of the most memorable and enjoyable talks I have heard, and years later when I was President of the Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners (then PPP-LA), I welcomed him back to the conference as keynote speaker for the Thursday lunchtime program and quoted his own speech from 2011 back to him! (I’m sure he thought I was crazy.)

If you are new to LACGP and have never been to the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference, I urge you to try it this year. You will thank me afterward!

LACGP Invitation

Invitation: Please join us to help address planned giving in a post-Covid world... and have some fun.

Phew: Well that was easy! We all somehow got through what hopefully is the worst of the pandemic. We protected our families and helped steward our organizations: we pivoted, we masked, we zoomed and we persevered.  At home. For our work and our families. And now, like the entire world, we are facing an uncertain post-covid world.

As we all re-enter the “real world”, we will carefully consider how we will approach our planned giving efforts. And perhaps more than ever, we will carefully evaluate how we spend our precious time, ensuring that there is a value-add to us through what we receive and what we give.

And for this reason, we invite you to join us at the Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners (Home). As planned giving professionals, we all need and welcome the insight, the observations, the suggestions that come from one another as we navigate these uncharted waters. We look forward to sharing ideas and experiences as we all do our utmost to support our organizations’ missions.

In exchange, we are delighted and excited to offer an opportunity to spend time, to network, to build friendships and professional relationships with among the most respected and accomplished group of professionals. Who also are a lot of fun, enthusiastic, and energetic. 

While we benefit from what you share with us and vice versa, we look forward to sharing LACGP’s numerous member benefits noted below. 

So please consider our invitation seriously. We’d love to have you join us. We need your input, perspective, and experience as we all think about planned giving and fundraising going forward. And, in case it wasn’t clear, we pledge to have fun doing so!

Membership Benefits (lacgp.org)

  • Discounted or free registration to LACGP Events (Event List)
  • Fun group
  • Four General Membership Meetings with in-depth presentations by recognized professionals and experts, as well as time for networking with other members.  Meetings are in January, March, September, and November
  • Access to current insights, trends, practices, and timely legislative updates and briefings. Recent topics have included global giving during a pandemic and generational shifts in donor patterns.
  • Local happy hours...see: fun
  • Online webinars and roundtable discussions on relevant fundraising topics
  • An active Member Listserv for easy exchange of ideas and inquiries
  • Volunteer and Leadership Opportunities: did I mention a fun and exciting group?
  • A Mentorship program which matches an experienced planned giving professional with someone new to the field or someone who is looking for guidance on a certain topic…rewarding for all
  • The highly respected Western Regional Planned Giving Conference, with national speakers, focus-specific presentations and insights into donors, fundraising, planned giving priorities and best practices. Plus receptions and time for meeting with fellow members. And yes: fun! The 31st Annual Western Regional Planned Giving Conference is May 25-27, 2022.
  • Members Jobs Postings provides access to job and career information, transitions and skill building
  • Training Options for new field entrants and engagement with experienced professionals.
  • Access to our online membership directory, searchable by name, area of expertise, geographic region, etc.
  • Fun events (past events have include Hollywood Bowl Concerts and special outings)

New Member Questions with Holly Hight, MPA

Holly Hight, MPA, graduated from Scripps College with a degree in Religious Studies. She also earned a master’s in public administration from Cal State Northridge. Holly currently serves as the Director of Donor Relations and Events at the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC). In this role, she cultivates, appreciates, and stewards donors to advance the mission of ending women’s homelessness in Los Angeles. Holly is passionate about the work of DWC, which provides housing, employment, advocacy, and healthcare to women experiencing homelessness. Holly lives in Pasadena with her partner, Joel, and 7-year-old son. She enjoys listening to great music, spending time with friends and going on hikes throughout Los Angeles. You can learn more about the Downtown Women’s Center at www.downtownwomenscenter.org. Holly would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. Her profile can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollyhight/.

1.) How did you learn about the Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners (LACGP)?

When I first graduated from Scripps College many years ago, I started my career as a grassroots organizer with Bread for the World. During my career, the organization hired a Major Gifts Officer to work alongside my team.

Joanne Nazarian was hired into this role and introduced me to LACGP. She attended the conference every year and developed an expertise in planned giving. I recently reached out to her again to ask about resources for planned gifts and she encouraged me to join LACGP as a member.

2.) What would you like to gain from being a member of LACGP?

As the Director of Donor Relations and Events at the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC), I oversee all our individual giving, in-kind donations, event giving and planned giving. Part of our 3-year strategic plan is to increase planned gifts. I consider myself a newbie to the planned giving field, but I’ve seen it have a tremendous impact on our organization.

My first year on the job (2019), we received a large bequest from a major donor after her passing. It was my first experience of cultivating relationships with a legacy gift and I really enjoyed getting to know the family and finding ways to honor the family.

We dedicated a room in our current building to the family and hosted an event for their friends and acquaintances to come learn more about DWC and celebrate their legacy. We partnered with a group called Piece by Piece to create a mosaic to name the room after the couple. Piece by Piece is an art agency that works with people experiencing homelessness to create mosaics. The family told us that their parents loved iris flowers and squirrels, so we incorporated that into the mosaic design.

The event was a tremendous success and opened the doors to new relationships with potential donors.

3.) What is interesting to you about planned giving?

a. Do you have a particular passion in the field?
I am passionate about aligning donor’s values with the values of the Downtown Women’s Center. Over the last three years at DWC, I’ve seen us grow more in our work to promote equity and racial justice. I love talking to donors about this work and helping them align their philanthropic priorities with our values. With planned giving, I am passionate about people’s legacies. I enjoy having conversations with donors about how they want to be remembered – what is your legacy? Many of them are moved by our mission of providing long-term housing for women experiencing homelessness, and they are compelled to support this mission with a bequest. I look forward to learning more from LAGCP about strengthening our planned giving society – the Jill Halverson Legacy Society (named after our lovely founder)—and encouraging more donors to make planned gifts.

b. What do you feel is the most important thing you can learn this year?
Honestly, this year, I need an overview of the basics – how do donors make a planned gift? What resources does DWC need to provide them to do this? How can we incorporate planned giving into our already existing appeals and communication tools? What will help us achieve our strategic plan goal of increasing bequests to the agency?

c. How can LACGP help you accomplish this year’s goals?
LACGP can help me accomplish these goals by connecting me to the right people in the field. Many years ago, a good friend told me, “If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone who does to show you how.” By attending the upcoming conference, I hope to find the right mentors and leaders at LACGP to help me build a robust and thriving planned giving program for the Downtown Women’s Center.