February 2021

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Letter from the President

Dear Planned Giving Professionals,

I am humbled and honored to step into the role of Chesapeake Planned Giving Council (CPGC) President, following in the footsteps of Richard Letocha. I am grateful for the leadership of my predecessor, and the guidance of the extraordinary men and women who have served the Council in this capacity over the past 30 years. As I enter into my two-year tenure as President, here are a few of my thoughts on the Council – previous times, what’s happening now, and hopes for the future:

The Early Vision

It is important for me to learn as much as possible about the origins of an organization - CPGC is no exception (I’m a bit of a history buff). After spending some time reviewing the history of CPGC, I am pleased to share that the fundamental principles remain the same. Here’s a snippet of what the original incorporators envisioned for the Council in 1990:

To serve the needs of donors, and the institutions they support by encouraging the education and the training of the planned giving community and allied professionals…

As a nod to the incorporators and their vision, it is important that we take a moment to acknowledge and thank the 2020 Board of Directors for their dedication, service and leadership over the past year. In 2020, CPGC switched gears and focused on ways to bring educational programs and other events to a virtual audience, all while in the midst of unprecedented changes in the workplace, home, and the nation.

What’s Going on Now

Our 2021 Board of Directors have already jumped in with energy, and a laser sharp focus that is wonderful. To add to this enthusiasm, in 2021, we welcomed two new board members. With all hands-on deck, and the tasks before us, the Board of Directors continue to show up ready for the challenge:

Aquanetta Betts, President
World Vision, USA

Rosemary Calderalo, Vice President
Boys and Girls Club of America

John A. Gilpin, Secretary
Baltimore Community Foundation

Leslie Goldsborough, Tresurer
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Richard Letocha, Past President  
Johns Hopkins University    
Suzanne Ferrero, Director
Johns Hopkins University

Stephanie Brizee, Director
Loyola University

Rock Schuler, Director
Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School

Jane Moore, Director

Family Heritage Trust

Steven Wantz, Director
Carroll Community College

Join us for our virtual Coffee Chat on February 17th. This is an opportunity for us to connect with longtime friends and new friends alike. We would love to have you join us from wherever you are – in the Chesapeake region and beyond. Connect with us on social media to stay informed about events and other information. 

While I write this message, I celebrate that - since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. May the many stories, contributions, and accomplishments continue to provide inspiration and encouragement to us all.

Looking Forward

What’s on the horizon for CPGC? We are planning engaging programs, and focusing on the benefits and value of membership. Here are a few items of concentration: 

  1. Network with your peers and connect with new colleagues
  2. Learn best practices and gain a different perspective
  3. Connect to the regional philanthropic community
  4. Enhance your leadership skills as a chapter volunteer
  5. Gain insights to issues affecting gift planning from local and nationally recognized experts

As a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Development Committee, I am dedicated to utilizing these experiences to benefit the mission of the Council.  

With our collective action, partnerships, and collaborations, CPGC will continue to meet the needs of the planned giving community and allied professionals in finance, banking, insurance, and law. In furtherance of working together, we thank our wonderful sponsors for their support, and Association Matters, Inc., for their service. Also, our members are the backbone of CPGC and we are grateful for you. I truly appreciate your support and encourage you to share any feedback and ideas you may have as we work together in the upcoming year.

All the best,

Aquanetta Betts
CPGC, President
Linkedin @AquanettaBetts

Become a Member of CPGC!

 Join CPGC

The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners [NACGP] manages the membership process for new and existing members. Please click here to join or renew your membership with CPGC, NACGP or both associations.

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  • Network with your peers and connect with new colleagues
  • Learn best practices and gain a different perspective
  • Connect to the regional philanthropic community
  • Enhance your leadership skills as a chapter volunteer
  • Access to complimentary career posting on our website
  • Gain insights to issues affecting gift planning from local and nationally recognized experts
  • Reinforce skills and become more proficient in practices
  • Share ideas with professionals who serve the needs of donors and clients
  • Maximize your time by attending convenient and concise in-person events

The Future of Planned Giving: 5 Marketing Trends for the New Year

By: Nathan Stelter, President of the Stelter Company

Nobody has ever had to plan for a year like this.

We are still “navigating the unknown,” but what we do know is this: Now is not the time to let off the gas. Staying connected and in front of your donors paid huge dividends in 2020 and continues to be critical as we learn what 2021 has in store for us. While it’s difficult to plan for the unpredictable, I took some time to put together five planned giving marketing trends that I think will prove to be timeless. 

1. Continuing creative remote engagement

We’ve grown accustomed to the way we have worked and lived for almost a year now. Moving forward, even with a vaccine, travel and home visit schedules will adjust to accommodate donors evolving needs.

Continued two-way conversations with your donors will spark connection and forge a bond—even from afar. Picking up the phone, building relationships for their own sake and multichannel campaigns are all tried-and-true means to connect. In addition to these methods, finding new inventive ways to enrich your relationships with your donors and prospects is paramount.

Try some of these creative ideas nonprofits have found to be successful:
  • Make it personal. Send a personal postcard—or even a video. For a holiday, in lieu of your in-person annual event or “just because,” let your donors know you’re thinking of them with postcard or video. Not convinced of the power of video? Check out this blog from last year.
  • Have fun with it. Become part of their day-to-day life at home. Try virtual coffee breaks or hosting a Zoom event, like a concert, game night or viewing party of a video pertaining to your mission.
  • Keep them informed. Setup virtual “town halls” featuring essential administrators. Keep loyal, long-time donors in the know about how your organization is making an impact right now.
  • Remind them of why they love you. Send out content from archives. We’ve seen this work well for a variety of arts organizations, but it can apply to other types of nonprofits as well.
  • Be a trusted advisor and offer assistance. Provide resources that can help them, when they’re ready, with any planning questions.
  • Share social proof. Tell stories of the important work your organization has done and is doing. When appropriate, highlight examples of the investment donors, like them, have made in the past that are paying off today.

2. Stewardship

2020 forced us to take a closer look at stewardship. It’s not the galas, luncheons or cocktail hours—it’s the connection.

This year, we had to construct new ways to meaningfully connect with donors. What is one of the best tools to create a two-way dialogue with your donors, especially given that face-to-face meetings are on an indefinite hold? Survey.

While Zoom calls have become the norm in the business-to-business world, this technology may not be a viable option for some donors. Surveys are an easy, noninvasive solution.

Unsurprisingly, Stelter has seen a definite uptick in survey responses, in both print and digital, since March. Not only do we have fewer distractions, as travel plans and events have been cancelled, but so do our donors. Provide them with an opportunity to express themselves to you and your organization. Learn more about the opportunity to connect via surveys here.

3. Authenticity

Candor, transparency and humanity all became even more important. So, show your human side!

This time at home has broken down some professional barriers, and it’s time for us all to take advantage. Move away from corporate lingo and don’t be afraid to use different voices in your organization other than leadership.

TIP: Want to thank your legacy donors? Record a candid video from your computer/phone and send it on its way. In today’s environment, scripted and polished videos can be received as unauthentic, impersonal or simply too corporate. A moment of realness can be more impactful than a refined (and costly) production.

4. Framing transformational giving in a new way

We are seeing a shift from the use of “planned giving” to “major gifts of assets” and “asset-based philanthropy.” By positioning planned giving this way, it allows donors (and your boss/board) to better understand the opportunity in front of them and, in turn, help gain more support for your mission.

Remember: The organizations that best weather economic storms plant seeds years in advance. Asset-based giving is a powerful, long-term solution, and can help your nonprofit not only survive, but thrive during these trying times.

In fact, according to Dr. Russell James, shifting donations from disposable income (cash) to wealth (assets) is the single most powerful way to transform a nonprofit. In his recent Stelter webinar series presentation, “Putting Research to Work in Your Planned Giving Program: Getting Leadership Support and Donor Dollars,” Russell showcased the impact asset-based philanthropy can have on an organization. See his example below.

5. Remembering the “why”

It can be second nature for fundraisers to focus on the “how” (i.e., gift vehicle). 2020 showed us that the “why” for donors continues to be what’s most important; without the “why,” there is no “how.”

With your donor’s journey in mind, offer genuine experiences and moments between them and your organization. Over time, these memories will motivate donors to further extend their values and hard work with a gift that perpetuates those ideas at your nonprofit.

January is a fresh start. Use this month to plan for the year, but also to remember your “why.” Share your reason with your supporters. Inspire them with your story and your passion.

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About the Author

Nathan Stelter

Nathan Stelter is the president of The Stelter Company, a leading source for gift planning marketing solutions for the nonprofit community. The Stelter Company, which was founded in 1962, currently partners with more than 1,400 organizations nationally with a staff of over 80 individuals. The home office is located in Des Moines, Iowa, with regional representation in Chicago, Ill.; Asheville, NC; Washington, DC and Denver, Colo.

Nathan’s personal goal and charge to his staff, his clients and this industry is to continue to lead by example as Stelter build’s marketing solutions based on scientific-data, informed by industry-changing research and focused on connecting people, passion and purpose by way of personal philanthropy!

Over Nathan’s 20-year career in planned giving, he’s been fortunate to speak at over 100 national and regional industry meetings on gift planning marketing trends and cutting-edge donor and fundraising research. He’s been quoted in Planned Giving Today, Advancing Philanthropy, Nonprofit Pro, and other trade publications and currently authors the highly successful Stelter Insights blog. Nathan is a past board member of the National Capital Gift Planning Council (Washington, DC), current member of the Mid-Iowa Planned Giving Council and serves on the board for the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners as well as the National Standards for Gift Planning Success (NSGPS) task force.

Nathan is a two-time graduate of the University of Iowa where he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an Executive MBA. He lives by the mantras: “It is what it is”, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” and “Everything happens for a reason” …and it seems to work out. He is a lover of music, soccer, spicy food and his beloved Iowa Hawkeyes. He rarely sleeps. And is extremely competitive in everything he does. When not at his Stelter desk, Nathan enjoys spending time with his family, wife Nora and children Benjamin Hawkeye (14), Brody (10) and Brynn (8) along with three Brussels Griffon pups, Lola, Bubbles and Fergus.

Thank You to Our Sponsors For Your Continued Support

Community Foundations Have a Unique Ability - Variance Power

By: Claudia Nichols Cunningham

With so many nonprofits struggling amidst the economic fallout created by the Global COVID-19 Pandemic, what does a donor do to ensure that an estate gift established to support their favorite nonprofit remains impactful if the nonprofit ceases to exist at the time the gift is realized? How can that donor’s philanthropic legacy be protected for future generations if a nonprofit organization goes out of business? Enter the work of a Community Foundation.

Community Foundations have a unique ability to protect a donor’s interests long after that donor’s lifetime. This protection falls under the ability of a Community Foundation’s Board, usually made up of community leaders, to use its variance power to ensure that the donor’s intent is fulfilled in perpetuity. Through the terms of a standard fund agreement between the donor and the Community Foundation, the donor can outline their specific charitable intentions and acknowledge that should their gift to a specific nonprofit not be possible, the board has the authority, through their variance power, to follow-through with the gift’s original intention. Community Foundations hold a variety of types of funds including Donor Advised Funds, Designated Funds, Field of Interest Funds, Endowment Funds, Agency Funds, and Corporate Advised funds, which may benefit a specific nonprofit organization or a variety of nonprofit organizations. The funds can be endowed, partially restricted, or unrestricted. To see how variance power works, take this example: perhaps a donor, who is fond of a local mentorship program, has set up a designated endowment fund to benefit that organization through the donor’s estate plan. That donor’s designated endowment fund is established to provide income in perpetuity to the mentorship program. Twenty years later, the donor has passed on and the legacy gift has been realized, but the program no longer exists. The Community Foundation has the authority, through the Board’s variance power, to redesignate those funds to a similar nonprofit organization whose work most closely aligns with the donor’s original intent. By identifying a similar alternative nonprofit organization within the community that offers a mentorship program, the Board protects the donor’s legacy.

Variance power not only allows a donor’s charitable wishes to be followed and continue in perpetuity, but also allows the Community Foundation to respond to the changing needs of nonprofit organizations within the community. It’s a winning combination for the donor, the nonprofits, and future generations.

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About the Author

Claudia Nichols Cunningham is the Director of Gift Planning with the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC). During her 20 career in fundraising, Claudia has focused on helping donors achieve lasting philanthropic legacies. Prior to joining CFAAC, Claudia held leadership positions in educational fundraising, most recently as Assistant Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations for the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science and before that as Director of Major Gifts at the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation. She also served as Interim Director of Development and Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s continuing education school, named at the time, the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education (SPSBE), and ran the Johns Hopkins University Phonathon. Claudia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Goucher College in Art and English Writing and studied Business Administration at Johns Hopkins University (SPSBE).

Finding Common Ground - Lessons in Forging a Working Relationship that Drives Results

Take two rising leaders, one from the corporate world and another from the non-profit sector, put them together for a few years and what do you get? Results, and lots of them. Meet Matt Cohen, Regional Manager at M&T Bank and Jill Feinberg, Vice President Development and External Affairs at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. Three years ago, they were each moving into new professional roles and were thrust together into leadership positions on the Mt. Washington Pediatric Foundation Board.This is a story of rocky roads, grit, determination, lots of heart, and a huge investment of time from these two leaders. In the end, they formed a unique partnership that generated positive results for Mt.Washington Pediatric Hospital and its Foundation. It’s clear that Jill and Matt’s winning formula came from trust and open communication.


Our story begins when Jill Feinberg was appointed to the role of Vice President at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH). In this role, her portfolio of responsibilities included philanthropy, marketing, communications,community outreach, and management of the hospital’s Board.At the same time, Matt Cohen, a rising star at M&T Bank, was assuming his position as Board President for the Mt. Washington Pediatric Foundation which raises and funds programs at the hospital. He was appointed to the board ten years prior due to his strengths in leadership, strategic thinking, and banking. When he originally joined the board, he was dispatched with one message from his boss - don’t screw it up. In joining the board, Matt was not only professionally invested, but became personally committed to the mission of MWPH – one which extended to his family. In Matt’s role as Board President, he was expected to perform the status quo including chairing a few meetings, attending some events, joining a few calls, and weighing in on opportunities from time to time. For Jill’s role as Vice President, she was expected to create awareness around the events and activities of the Foundation and raise money. As long as these actions occurred, things would be good, and Jill and Matt would have done well in their roles.

Status quo is not in Jill's or Matt’s vocabulary. Below is an interview with Jill and Matt that highlights the ups and downs of two professionals in new roles,forging new ground – no playbook but plenty of opportunity. Here is their story.
JF = Jill Feinberg
MC = Matt Cohen

Q: How did your working relationship start off?

JF: Our working relationship started off with some challenges. The early challenges of our relationship had more to do with how we approached not only our respective roles, but how we wanted to communicate with one another. We were never short on energy as we set out to champion new board initiatives.

MC: We inherited a Foundation that had been in place for eleven years. Jill and I knew there was room for growth, we just hadn’t shared that clearly with one another. Our working relationship started off choppy.

JF: At the start, our expectations of one another were not in alignment. I viewed Matt as an extension of my team at the hospital and Matt viewed his role as an experienced volunteer.

MC:Looking back on it, we never sat down and talked about one another’s strengths and how best to leverage one another.

Q: Was there a turning point in your working relationship?

JF: Yes – a lunch meeting at Byblos in Federal Hill. We met later in the day; there were no other customer sand we talked and ate for more than two hours.

MC: It was nothing fancy or all that formal. I invited Jill to lunch, and suggested that we plan to talk openly with each other. In my work life, I have learned that when two good people struggle to find their partnership footing, the root cause is usually communication. The goal was to create a casual atmosphere to become “work” friends.

JF: Over lunch we began to let our guards down and talk openly about things that were bothering each of us. It was difficult but the lunch was a clear turning point for Matt and me. We built authentic trust that day. It’s funny because, prior to the lunch, Matt asked me to think about what was going well,as well as areas for improvement. I wrote up a list of ideas and brought them to the lunch. Of course, Matt didn’t! But regardless, we each had the same things on our minds!

Q:What were you able to cover during the lunch?

MC: We talked openly with one another. We brainstormed ideas such as our shared vision for the board, succession planning for board leadership, and the ideal relationship between the board and staff.This was all very important, especially because we were about to launch a fundraising campaign. The meeting allowed us to dream big together and reset our working relationship. By having open and honest communication we were able to reach a new level of trust.

JF: I learned from Matt that I was relying on him too much. I was looking for his approval or support and Matt just wanted me to feel empowered to move things forward. We both had a sense of urgency to get things done and we just needed to learn one another’s working style. At first, I wasn't really comfortable with his sense of urgency, but later I learned that this was his way of encouraging me to trust my instincts to get the job done.

MC: There’s no question the lunch was a turning point for me. I had to take a step back and understand how my skills could best be used to support Jill, her team,and the organization. I also took time to articulate my commitment and what that meant in terms of my time and availability. What’s amazing is we both had crazy high expectations of what we wanted to accomplish.

JF:  We didn’t drink at lunch, but it was as if we both took a swig of truth serum. We got honest with one another. Saying you can be honest with someone is very different than actually being honest with someone. That honesty with one another launched a series of great results for the Foundation and the hospital.

MC: We both wore our thick skin to the lunch and it really paid off. I recall the salad was really good as well!

Q: Was one lunch enough to solve your issues?

JF: No.

MC: Absolutely not.

JF: We walked away knowing that we both wanted the same thing – success for the hospital. We established some ground rules for communicating with one another from frequency to agenda topics. I learned a lot during this time. Matt really became an advocate for me and the development of my team and my role.

MC: Each of our regular calls or meetings allowed me to become more passionate about the work of Mt.Washington and helped me solidify the kind of work I wanted to steer as Chair. Jill’s insight was invaluable to me.

JF: I could be completely honest with Matt and share challenges and my ideas for solutions. He became my biggest advocate and paved a path for my ideas to succeed. For example, soon after this lunch, I came to Matt to discuss some concerns about our data integrity. Matt listened to me and he supported the creation and hiring of a Database Manager. This position was a game changer for my team.

MC: I really enjoy strategic thinking. The problem with strategic thinking is without the know-how and the team to execute, you can’t take an idea to a strategy.The balance Jill and I created, allowed our ideas to turn into strategy and then the strategy to success.

JF: An important moment for me was meeting Matt’s family. It showed me his deep passion for his family and for the hospital. He truly believes in MWPH and transferred that enthusiasm to his family who also supports the hospital. That was very meaningful for me to see and experience first-hand. Matt asked me to help design an important family donation to the hospital. Knowing Matt both personally and professionally helped me trust him and learn to rely on his strategic and frankly, selfless advice.

Q: What piece of advice would you share with others entering roles similar to yours?

JF: Right away, get to know one another. Learn what makes the other person tick. Matt and I both wanted to be successful as new leaders. Very soon after our lunch meeting, it became very natural to support and empower one another.

MC: Find time early in the working relationship to sit down and get honest about why you are in the role,what you want to get from the experience, how you like to communicate, and what issues get your attention.

Q: How has this partnership changed/shaped you?

MC: Without a doubt, I can say that my leadership skills strengthened because of my relationship with Jill as well as my role as chair. The experience on the board translated well to my work at M&T. For example,during the pandemic, I am learning to say things more directly, I am hitting things head on, and I am trying not to let issues linger. Ultimately, I want to use my time to help people at work and in the community.

JF: Matt’s spirit motivated me and his unwavering support helped me stay true to myself. I learned to trust my instincts and elevate my voice among diverse stakeholders. I learned to stay focused on the mission of the hospital when developing a strategy; but also to listen to feedback from others to keep shaping the path to get there.

Lessons Learned


  • Be your own advocate.
  • Involve people strategically.
  • Create an overarching strategic narrative that board members can parlay to the community.
  • Establish consistency among stakeholder groups such as executive teams, board members, staff, and donors.
  • Define the board’s value proposition within the hospital.

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  • Focus on people’s strengths and find ways to engage them.
  • Partnership relies on honest communication and trust.
  • Feedback is a gift if you are open to it.
  • Listening is an active process that can generate results.

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