17 years ago this past August, I started work with what would eventually become the Moravian Ministries Foundation, and I have felt blessed every single day. Often I say I feel like I died and went to heaven; it is amazing and I know I am fortunate. But why? It comes down to two things: the people and the work itself. This week I had another experience where these two “things” intersected for seemingly the zillionth time.
A few years ago we undertook an effort to focus more attention on helping congregations integrate planned giving into their faith-based philanthropic conversations with members. We call this program GiftLegacy, and Laura Watson of our staff has done a tremendous job of leading and supporting the effort.
At Clemmons Moravian Church here in North Carolina, we have been working with a leadership team to design and implement their GiftLegacy Program. The Committee has worked hard and Laura has done everything she can to keep the trains running effectively and on time; it has been a wonderful partnership (good people – fun work).
One of the recent efforts was to promote charitable gift annuities, as they are a great way to support your church or favorite Moravian agency. Among the many benefits of a gift annuity are:
- It allows the donor(s) to make a gift,
- It provides the donor(s) lifetime guaranteed income (payment rates are set by the age of the donor(s)),
- It provides a generous tax deduction,
- It simplifies the estate planning process.
Well, a mailing about gift annuities was sent to the Clemmons Moravian members. A few weeks passed and I received a call from a long-standing member who had read the brochure and visited our website. She and her husband had some questions about gift annuities so we spent about a half hour chatting. She said she would get back to me, which she did.
We talked some more and I visited them at their home. They had stock that had increased in value but was only generating about 2% in dividends. They also talked about how important Clemmons Moravian Church is to them and how they wanted to make a lasting gift. The gift annuity was a perfect tool to increase their income and support the Church. After a couple more chats they said, “We’re ready; let's do it!” And, together, we did. In addition to Clemmons Moravian, they will also support Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp, Conference and Retreat Center and the local community foundations.
As you can see, this is another example of great people and fun work.
In closing, I know how blessed I am. When I am working with people like this, the joy I experience comes from meeting folks and listening to their stories about their faith journey and how that journey lead them to be express their gratitude through a planned gift. I do have one regret: I should have kept a diary about all my encounters. I would have 17 volumes filled with hundreds of pages of remarkable stories about remarkable Moravians! But, occasionally when I go through the files and see the names of those who have passed or are still alive, I smile and thank them for allowing us to help them accomplish their charitable dreams. It is a joy to serve people who want to Invest Where They Believe and strengthen the Moravian Church's ministry.