Professional fundraisers are uniquely positioned to experience firsthand the true spirit of philanthropy.
They can see it in the faces of donors – particularly in that moment when passions align with a need, allowing a donor’s values to be expressed through a specific gift designation.
It is this spirit of philanthropy that motivates Augusta University’s Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement team members to give and to serve in their unique roles. They have a passion for and commitment to the mission of the university and health system.
Recently, Mary McCormack, associate vice president for Gift and Estate Planning, was motivated to make a legacy gift to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Part of the Augusta University Health System, Children’s is a not-for-profit hospital that provides specialized pediatric care to thousands of children across the southeast annually.
“It’s much easier to talk to others about crafting a legacy gift if you have done it yourself,” McCormack explained.
She pledged this gift by allocating her employee life insurance policy to Children’s Hospital of Georgia. As an Augusta University employee, McCormack receives a base life insurance policy that follows her into retirement as part of the university’s benefits package.
“During open enrollment each year, employees are asked to designate or confirm policy beneficiaries,” said McCormack. “I simply changed the beneficiary assignment on my AU provided life insurance policy to go to the Children’s Hospital.”
Because there are hundreds of funding opportunities that support Augusta University and the AU Health System, McCormack carefully considered her choices before directing this gift.
McCormack started working with the Children’s Hospital leadership and philanthropy teams in summer 2020. Her dedicated efforts supporting Pediatrician-in-Chief Dr. Valera Hudson and Catherine Stewart, associate director of philanthropy for Children’s, in creating a Children’s Hospital philanthropy board exposed her to the fundraising priorities of the hospital.
One priority that Hudson shared with McCormack is the critical need for pediatric fellowships. Providing various pediatric fellowships at Children’s Hospital allows new physicians to gain the necessary experience and versatility to care for a wide range of pediatric patients from babies in utero up to young adults. Most of these pediatric specialties require doctors to extensively train for additional years to hone their skills in a particular discipline such as neurology, emergency medicine or cardiology for the pediatric patient population.
Dr. James St. Louis provided the Children’s Hospital with the first gift to establish the CHOG Pediatric Fellows Fund. As chief of Pediatric Cardiology, Thoracic and Congenital Cardiac Surgery and the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Distinguished University Chair in Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, St. Louis recognized the need to train more fellows in the intricacies of children’s heart surgery. Likewise, the fund can be used to support other pediatric fellowships as well, depending on the demand for services.
McCormack decided she wanted her estate gift for Children’s to be used to benefit this pediatric fellowship fund, so she documented her specific wishes by completing and signing a gift intention form with Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement, as this information is typically not held by the insurance custodian.
“We want to honor the specific wishes of each of our donors,” McCormack said. “This documentation guarantees the donor’s intentions are followed. So, I can be confident that my gift will go directly to the Children’s Hospital for pediatric fellowships.”
Allocating the AU Foundation as the beneficiary on her life insurance policy means that McCormack’s gift (upon her death) will be received seamlessly, without the need to probate her will first. The insurance custodian will receive notification and will direct the funds to the beneficiary she has selected.
“After seeing miracles unfold at Children’s Hospital of Georgia and observing the skill and compassion of the pediatric health care teams, I couldn’t help wanting to be a part of that in some way,” said McCormack, who is blessed with three healthy children of her own – Cort, age 17, Cassi, age 21, and Calli, age 24. “It is a privilege and an honor to know my gift will benefit children long after I am gone.”
While McCormack chose to designate her employee insurance as an estate gift, donors also may leave a legacy by designating a percentage or specific dollar amount of their will or trust, or by gifting a portion, or all, of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or retirement plan to a charitable foundation or institution.
If you would like to experience the satisfaction of making a philanthropic gift and leaving a legacy to an institution you love, please consider a planned gift to benefit Augusta University.