January 4, 2021

Planning a gift to support your Aggieland passions will be celebrated long after 2021.

As we welcome 2021, we also welcome new challenges in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Many people fail to succeed in their resolutions because they are missing one critical component: a plan. In the business world, it is imperative to have action items formally documented with designated owners for each step to meet annual goals. Charitable giving to support your Aggieland passions is no different.

When you plan a legacy gift (or after-lifetime gift) to the Texas A&M Foundation, you should treat it like a lifetime goal. No one gives money to a charity because they don’t want their money; charitable giving is done out of love and a desire to support a worthy cause.

At the Texas A&M Foundation, the best part of our job is forming personal relationships with our donors and discovering their passions to connect them with meaningful gifts. While a legacy gift is always impactful to Texas A&M University, the most important thing to our team is that your legacy gift is meaningful to you.

In order to achieve this, we have a gift agreement process in place to ensure that your specific gift wishes are honored after your lifetime. Consider us your personal after-lifetime gift representatives. We work with Texas A&M to direct your money to support what you want.

However, like an annual business goal, if you don’t have a plan for your legacy gift, the likelihood of your gift falling in between the cracks is greatly increased. Again, your goal is not just to give; your goal is to give and make a difference. That’s what our team is here to help you do!

A recent example of this is a bond that formed between Dr. Mark Moore ’84 and Randy Lunsford ’89, senior director of development for the College of Science. Read below about how Moore discovered the importance and joy in developing a gift agreement to direct his legacy gift.

Deep Dive with Dr. Mark Moore ’84

What was your legacy gift plan prior to establishing a formal gift agreement?

For years, I was only interested in honoring my parents by establishing a couple of endowed scholarships because they were the two people in my life who deserved that recognition the most for all they did to ensure I received an education. My plan in my will was to name two President’s Endowed Scholarships (PES) in their honor.

How has your gift changed as a result of working through the gift agreement process?

My planned gift is now very specific. It is directed to support 11 different areas on campus that I am passionate about, including a President’s Endowed Scholarship in memory of my parents.

What motivated you to look at your legacy gift differently?

I was set on those two scholarships until Randy challenged my thinking the first time we met. Upon telling him what I wanted to do, he asked about my passions, what programs I had an interest in and what I thought my parents would have been interested in supporting. The way he approached planning the gift was completely different than how I looked at it. In listening to my interests and learning my story, he tapped into campus programs I was unaware of that he thought might interest me.

What inspired your decision to support the programs you have chosen?

My life story inspired the programs I will support after my life.

I grew up as an only child in rural East Texas. My father was one of 13 siblings raised on a cotton plantation. His parents could not afford for all 13 children to receive a formal education, so the girls were given that opportunity while the boys were taught hands-on farm skills. Also—at one point—five of my father’s brothers were overseas serving in WWII. Because of his experience, me getting a college education was a priority. Education was a given. If you had asked me at age 4 or 5 what I was going to do when I grew up, I would’ve replied, “I’m going to college.”

When I got to Texas A&M, I had this feeling like I was standing on sacred ground. The culture and traditions made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself, and my parents—never having attended college—enjoyed living vicariously through my experience. Their dedication to my education coupled with my experiences as a first-generation student led to my decision to plan a memorial scholarship and to also support Texas A&M’s robust first-generation program. When I learned more about this program from its leadership, such as Dr. Tim Scott ’89 and Victor Castillo ’13, my eyes were opened to students who looked exactly like me but looked nothing like me. To me, my choice to support students like this is no different than my graduate advisor taking a chance on me. I want future first-gen students to feel, deep down, that someone is looking out for them.    

Recognizing the mentors who helped me navigate my college experience was also a priority to me.

The second semester of my freshman year, my mom was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer. When she passed away and I returned home for the funeral, I received a sympathy card from my freshman advisor and mentor, Dr. Judy Edmiston. The simple handwritten note meant so much to me. I had known this woman for less than a year, and she took the time to care. Dr. Edmiston also took the time to send a condolence note to my father. I recall walking into the house one day, and it was the first thing he wanted to show me. He was stunned that a college professor would take the time and interest in his situation. He said, “I know they’ve got more important things to do than help me.” It was the first time I saw my father cry in 69 years, and he kept the note his entire life.  

It was this experience and many others involving mentors who guided and encouraged me that made me look into ways to direct my gift to support and celebrate future mentors. In reflecting on Dr. Edmiston’s kind act, I’ve often thought: “She probably just thought it was the right thing to do.” You have to listen to your heart, and my heart—that quiet voice inside me—is telling me that this is the right thing to do.

Why did you include matching funds in your legacy gift?

Randy opened my eyes to the power of matching funds, and, as a result, I have planned two matching fund endowments to further support two endowments that I planned in my gift agreement.

What I learned is that I can take my money and encourage future donors to give to an area I’m passionate about by matching their gifts with the endowments I’ve established. In my case, I have planned what is important to me, and if others share a passion for what I’m doing, they can join me. This collaborative method of giving also allows people to give who might not otherwise be in the financial position to do so alone.

What value have you experienced in working with the Texas A&M Foundation to establish your gift agreement?

There are people who raise money for a living, but there are very few who build relationships. Randy builds relationships and trust and fills donors’ needs. His way of doing things is to meet a donor, listen to them and to find areas that they might be as excited about giving to as the recipient will be to receive. He is playing facilitator, connecting people with two separate types of needs. One party might be the student who needs a mentor—the role model they’ve never had—and the other party may be the donor, like me, who has a sense of gratitude and responsibility to give back to the school that has given them so much. Put these two together, and you’ve got an amazing team. If not for the gift agreement process, I would not be able to fully appreciate this powerful connection.

Why do you feel it is important to have specific after-lifetime plans in place?

I grew up playing the pipe organ, so since age 14, I have played for around 8,000 funerals. As a result, I got to meet a lot of families at what, for many, was the worst time in their lives. This forced me to grow up quickly and understand the emotion that is involved that makes a difficult time even more difficult. I saw a lot of families fight about the most trivial things because there was not a proper plan in place. Many people have the mindset that if they don’t think about death or a will, they will somehow live for hundreds of years. The truth is, it’s so much easier to sit down with a planner and discuss your thoughts. To me, it is so important to ensure your wishes are adhered to after your lifetime. People work too hard their entire lives to not have that reassurance.  

Have you planned a gift for Texas A&M in your will?

Unfortunately, simply naming a gift to the Texas A&M Foundation in your will or living trust does not guarantee that it will be directed per your wishes. The only way you can have complete peace of mind that your gift will support what you care most about in Aggieland is to work with our team to establish a gift agreement that specifically articulates where your money will go after your lifetime. The same applies if you have named the Foundation as beneficiary of a retirement account or life insurance policy. Ensure your legacy gift has the meaning you envisioned by contacting our team today so we can help formalize your wishes. Additionally, you will become a Heritage Member in our Legacy Society, enjoying special member-only events and perks.

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