A Family Album: Snapshots from A History of Charitable Gift Planning

Event Date: 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 11:30am to 1:30pm

Event Location: 

The Rivers Club

Presented by Ron Brown

The history of charitable gift planning is far longer, and much more important, than people imagine.  This entertaining and well-illustrated presentation features highlights of our profession. 

In 1831, John Trumbull gave more than 50 paintings to Yale in exchange for a $1,000 annuity.  Our best images of the men, women, and events of the American Revolution, such as The Battle of Bunker’s Hill and The Declaration of Independence, were preserved as a collection through a planned gift. 

As far as is now known, this was the first gift annuity in the U.S., predating one issued in 1843 by the American Bible Society. 

An international gift annuity campaign by the Bible Society resulted in 4,615 annuity contracts between 1920-1930.  Other nonprofits leaped into gift annuity programs during the Roaring Twenties without adequate safeguards.    

In 1927, a national risk-management system was introduced at a hastily-convened conference on gift annuities.  Gift calculations required well-trained guidance.  The profession of charitable gift planning was born. 

Over the next 30 years, nonprofits were challenged by an unparalleled increase in longevity and a volatile economy marked by the Roaring Twenties, Great Depression, World War II, and a post-war boom.

By 1959, the Committee on Gift Annuities had virtually eliminated competition over annuity rates, and had introduced best practices for ethical marketing, accounting, investment of reserves, and compliance with federal and state laws, regulations, and court decisions. 

About the Presenter

Ron is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago.  A retired commander in the US Navy Reserve, he was decorated for research and writing while serving with the US Naval Historical Center.

Ron has been a professional fundraiser since 1979.  He directed gift planning programs at Princeton University, Columbia University, Fordham University, United Way of America, and the National Wildlife Federation.  He was a member of the board and Rates Committee, and chair of the Research Committee, for the American Council on Gift Annuities from 2008 to 2016.  He wrote the national Gift Annuity Survey Reports in 2010 and 2014.

He served on the board of the National Committee on Planned Giving (now the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners); was president of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey; and was a board member of the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York (PPGGNY). 

Ron wrote a chapter on family philanthropy for a book by CASE (2013), and has published many articles on gift planning.  He lives in Manhattan, and has two sons and two grandchildren.