Ella Nash Stories

Impactful Gifts That Cost You Nothing

One of the easiest and most powerful ways to make gifts to your favorite charities is to name them as beneficiaries of your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified plans. Retirement savings often represent our greatest financial assets, and gifts from them at our deaths may have significantly greater impact than those we can afford to make during life. Typically it costs nothing and takes but a few moments to name Allegheny College and/or other organizations as beneficiaries.

The first step is to submit a beneficiary designation form to your plan administrator. Most forms are available at fund websites. You will be able to name one or more beneficiaries, both human and organization. Donors typically assign percentage values for their beneficiaries rather than specific dollar amounts as final fund values cannot be known in advance. You will need the full legal name, address, and federal tax ID of the charity/ies that you wish to support.

(Allegheny College, 520 N. Main Street,
Meadville, PA 16335, 25-0965212)


Beneficiary designations supercede wills, so to ensure that the people and organizations you wish benefit from your hard work, be sure to review them periodically.


It’s important to note that there are spousal protections related to some retirement accounts and they vary by type and state. No federal rules govern IRA beneficiary designations, but in marital property states, spousal consent is generally required to include entities other than a spouse.

Workplace retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s are governed by federal law mandating that spouses are automatically entitled to receive 50% of fund owners’ accounts, regardless of what their beneficiary forms indicate. A properly executed spousal waiver will, however, allow a plan owner to designate more than 50% of her account for charity or other beneficiaries.

It is absolutely essential that you inform your executor/trusted persons and the charitable organizations that you are supporting about your plans because IRA fund administrators have no obligation to inform charities of their beneficiary status before or after your death. 

Part of the fun in making a gift like this is determining what you want to accomplish with it. Representatives at Allegheny and other nonprofits will be delighted to speak with you about your goals to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

At Allegheny, you will become a member of the William Bentley Legacy Society. Members are recognized in the College’s annual Report of Gifts and other publications (unless anonymity is preferred) and are invited to participate in special events. If you are celebrating a class reunion, your beneficiary designation will be included in your class reunion gift; if you are 62 or older, your gift will count toward major fundraising campaigns.

A warm heart is not the only benefit of charitable gifts of retirement assets. There are also practical reasons to give. Most IRAs (Roths excluded) and workplace retirement accounts are subject to both federal income taxes and estate taxes. Children and other non-spousal heirs pay income tax on their distributions, so you may wish to give them other assets through your will that will not be taxed, leaving retirement assets to charity. These gifts are also subtracted from donors’ estates, thus reducing the amount owed. Estate taxes currently affect only those whose assets are greater than $11.4 million (or $22.8 million for married couples), due to exclusions, but exclusions and rates change frequently. It’s impossible to predict what the situation will be at our deaths. Advance planning is a good idea and beneficiary designations do not require the use of an attorney.

We have a variety of educational resources to help with making gifts from retirement assets. Visit allegheny.giftplans.org for more information, including free e-brochures, or call us at (814) 332-6519 or toll-free at (866) 332-3853. We also may be reached at giftplan@allegheny.edu. Prospective donors are urged to consult their personal tax and financial advisors concerning the specific consequences of making gifts to Allegheny.

Planning Tip

Name a charitable remainder trust as a beneficiary of your retirement fund at your death to support a favored charity’s mission and reduce the income tax burden on your heirs. No income tax is due on retirement plan assets transferred to a charitable trust. In exchange for your gift, your spouse/partner, children, or other heirs will receive income for life or a specific period not to exceed 20 years. The principal will be put to charitable use in the manner that you designate at the end of the trust term. Visit allegheny.giftplans.org to request our free e-brochure, “Charitable Remainder Trusts.”

Supervisor, Super Donor

Linda Savor remembers her joyful interaction with students when she worked for the Office of Development at Allegheny College from 1994 to 2004. One of her favorite responsibilities as an office coordinator was to supervise work-study students who assisted with clerical and other projects. She remains close to a number of them, including Sallianne Van Cise Jones ’95, whose children call Linda “Grammy Linda.”

After she retired, she and her husband, Frank, decided that they would like to help students like those she worked with, helping them pay for their academic pursuits at Allegheny. In 2017, after serious discussion between them, they established the Linda K. Savor Scholarship in the amount of $50,000. The proceeds from this endowed fund go to scholarships that are awarded to students from Ohio and Pennsylvania who plan to pursue a career in the medical field, as a number of Linda’s students graduated with pre-med degrees.

“When I was working at Allegheny, the students who were employed by the College seemed to be very interested and engaged in their field of study and were very successful in accomplishing their goals,” Linda says. “We were inspired by the students’ dedication to their studies and decided we would help future students pay for their educations.”

Linda spent many years working at Sharon Steel Corp. until the firm filed for bankruptcy in 1993. “One day while going through Meadville with a friend, I saw the Allegheny campus and thought, what a beautiful place to work. So I applied and luckily was hired,” she recalls.

Her husband was a mechanical engineer, and he retired from Alcoa’s Forge Plant in Cleveland in 2001.

The Savors support a number of philanthropic causes, including Allegheny; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the Meadville Medical Center. “We have been fortunate to support these worthy causes. The best way to give others the same opportunities that we enjoyed is to support them, especially financially,” says Linda.

“We support Allegheny because everyone there from the students to professors to administrators are very high-quality individuals,” she says. “We know we are getting a good return on our philanthropic investment.”

The Language of Giving: Endowment

Ways to Give

As The Ella Nash Society newsletter celebrates and inspires women’s volunteerism and charitable giving, an understanding of the language of philanthropy is necessary. “Endowment” and “endowed funds” are terms that are oft-used and little understood. Donors have contributed a record-breaking $161 million to the Our Allegheny: Our Third Century Quest endowment campaign since July 2011. What will it mean for the College when we reach the $200 million goal?

In simplest terms, endowments function as special savings or investment accounts. They are permanent accounts where money is put into a fund (the principal) and restricted by agreement and/ or policy such that only a portion of the interest earned on it is made available for charitable use. Principal is not touched without member/board/trustee approval.

Organizational endowments are themselves often comprised of a number of individual funds. Allegheny’s $222 million endowment has 693 donor-established funds providing more than $8.6 million annually for operations. Each organization has its own spending formula: ours is 4.25% of a three-year average as revalued each June. Using an average account value helps to protect from financial spikes and declines. Thus, a $100,000 endowed fund at Allegheny will generate about $4,250 for spending in a given year.

Organizations set their own rules for gift minimums, interest areas, and reporting schedules. Donors name their funds and determine their purpose in consultation with organization staff. Fund donors or their designees should expect to receive regular financial and programmatic fund activity reports.

Donor-established endowments at Allegheny provide support for every aspect of campus life, including scholarships, student-faculty research, internships, study away, professorships, athletics, library materials, laboratory supplies, technology and our beautiful buildings and grounds. The minimum gift for establishing an endowment at Allegheny is $50,000 (payable over up to five years), and contributors are welcome to add to existing funds. Read the complete list and description of our endowed funds at allegheny.edu/scholarshipfunds

There are many ways to fund endowments beyond writing a check: appreciated securities, real estate, gifts from IRAs and life insurance; and valued art, jewelry and collectibles. Endowments may be established during life or through one’s estate. We suggest that donors focus on the impact that they would like to make as they consider how much and what assets to give to charity.

Make a Gift, Get Money Back for Life. Really?

Yes, indeed, it is possible to make a gift to many non-profit organizations and in return, receive an income tax deduction and cash for life with a charitable gift annuity (CGA). These annuities have supported charitable missions while providing a source of virtually guaranteed income to donors and/or their designated recipients since 1830. Allegheny has offered them since the 1990s, and we currently have 100-plus totaling about $11 million under management.

A gift annuity is a contract under which a charity, in return for a gift of cash or stock, agrees to make fixed annual payments for life to one or two people named at the time of the contribution. A person who receives payments is called an annuitant or beneficiary. Because you will receive money back from your gift, only part of the original payment is eligible for an income tax deduction (the charity will give you that figure).

One’s annual rate of income is set when the contribution is made and it never changes. The older the beneficiary/ies, the higher the rate. Rates are set so that at least 50 percent of the original contribution is expected to be left for charitable use at the income beneficiaries’ deaths. Payments are backed up by all of the charity’s assets: as our late colleague used to say, “They’d have to sell my desk before you did not receive your payment!”

In order to ensure that CGAs do not run out of money, charities set their own minimum age and gift amounts. At Allegheny, you must be 65 or older to begin receiving payments, but you can establish a deferred annuity for yourself or others at age 50 or older. The time between establishing a CGA and receiving income is the deferral period; the longer the deferral, the higher the payment rate. For example, a CGA with immediate payment for a 65 year old has a rate of 5.1%, but the rate for a 50 year old deferring payments until age 65 is 8.9%.

The minimum contribution for a regular CGA is $10,000 and $5,000 for one that is deferred for a year or more. It is not uncommon for women who are nearing or already at retirement age to establish a CGA while delaying payments for one to ten years in order to secure higher rates. Many donors fund multiple CGAs over a period of years as their rates increase with age.

Most donors fund CGAs for themselves (and spouses/partners), but you can also fund them for parents, family members, friends and others as long as they are at least 50 years old. You can share a CGA with people in these categories or have them be the sole beneficiaries. When there are two annuitants, payments continue until the death of the second with no reduction in the payment to the surviving annuitant. Funds remaining in a CGA at its termination may be designated towards the donor’s interest area or become part of the College’s general endowment. These gifts also count toward reunion class and campaign fundraising totals.

Philanthropy in Action

Nearly 40 students presented short overviews of their summer research and creative projects to an audience of staff, administrators, and guests over the course of nine weekly luncheons last summer. Students presented work from the humanities, natural-science and social-science divisions. Donors provide research funds and stipends for summer student-faculty research and for the weekly presentations. Visit allegheny.edu/across for more information and consider joining us for lunch one day next year!

Alumna Sees Reunions as a Chance to Renew Friendships, Support the College

“Giving to Allegheny was a simple choice for me. Allegheny had given me so much”

As an Allegheny alumna, Rachel Dingman ’08 says she now has two priorities: Bringing her former classmates together to celebrate Reunion Weekend on campus and providing support for the College.

Rachel had the distinction of being the youngest-ever Timothy Alden Council (TAC) donor at Allegheny, meaning that she donated $1,815 as a new graduate to help boost the College’s programs.

“Giving to Allegheny was a simple choice for me,” she says. “Allegheny had given me so much — from my incredible group of friends to a foundation that has carried me through all of my future education.”

For a young woman busy tending to her career, Rachel continues to devote much of her volunteer time and effort to helping current Allegheny students find academic success and to bringing her former classmates together for landmark reunions.

Rachel graduated from Allegheny in 2008 and returned to the College in 2010 to work in the Admissions Office and as the director of Hillel, a Jewish student organization.

“I spent five amazing years working for Allegheny and figuring out my relationship as an alumna and employee,” says Rachel. “During that time, I served as the co-chair for the first-ever five-year reunion celebrated by a single class. It was incredible to watch our class come together, raise money, and reunite back on campus. I caught the reunion bug quickly, and I am currently co-chairing our 10-year reunion this summer.”

In 2015, Rachel left Allegheny and moved to Israel to pursue an opportunity at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. “I spent two years there and received a certificate in experiential Jewish education. During that time, I continued to support Allegheny by serving as a part-time application reader for the Admissions Office,” she says.

Rachel returned to the United States in May 2017 and is now the assistant director for Penn State Hillel, working at the University Park campus. “I manage our student life team (four professional staff members), work with our student leaders, facilitate a Jewish learning seminar, manage and strategize use of our data, and work with an incredible team to figure out how to serve all of our 4,000 Jewish students on campus,” she says.

But her alma mater is never far from her thoughts, and devoting time to organizing reunions and continuing to support the College financially is part of Rachel’s philanthropic plan.

“I have seen the benefits of donating every day. Giving was never a question — in terms of giving at the TAC level — this was a very practical decision,” says Rachel. “Giving a portion of your salary to the community is a Jewish tradition that I strongly connect to. In the times of the Torah, farmers were required to give 10 percent of the crops they raised to serve their community.

“Allegheny has helped me establish my career and had put me in a place financially that I could give to my community from my salary every month. It was easy to do, financially responsible, and helped me get closer to living out a value that I hold dear,” she says. “I am proud to have been able to give at the level I did, and that I am now able to continue giving at the TAC level.”

Fast Friends, Forever Philanthropic

The current academic and professional interest in the philanthropic activities of women in the United States might lead one to think that our engagement with charity is a new concept. In fact, we have been sharing our expertise, time, and treasure with our communities and favorite organizations for centuries.

We have historically worked to address poverty and social welfare, the care of children and families, sanitation and medicine, healthcare, the environment, and education. What is new is the growing realization that women are a powerful force for getting.things.done. Women are shaping the world, including Allegheny, as never before through our increased social and political capital, networking, and financial resources. Allegheny is — and has long been — the grateful recipient of women’s beneficence. Alumnae give of their time as class agents, mentors, recruiters, Alumni Council members, trustees and more. In fact, 65 percent of our 1,300-plus active volunteers are women. The Spring 2017 issue of The Ella Nash Society newsletter highlighted alumnae service to Allegheny and provided several options for readers’ engagement through Gator Connect, the College’s online community, where students and alumni connect with the College and one another. (read Supporting Through Service for details.) Alumnae also give generously of their financial resources, as evidenced in scholarships, professorships, internships, buildings, program funds, and the annual operating budget. Gift amounts and service levels vary with time and individual means, yet all advance the College.


Women are shaping the world, including Allegheny, as never before through our increased social and political capital, networking, and financial resources.


One of the most popular ways that alumnae combine gifts of time and treasure is, like Rachel Dingman, through their service on class reunion committees. Hundreds of alumnae maintain lifelong friendships that sprouted in residence halls, sororities, clubs, and sports. These women are natural partners for the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs. They connect with classmates and friends, encourage attendance, and help plan the reunion activities. Many assist with the fundraising for class gifts in addition to making their own contributions.

Sally Barrett Hanley ’92, Director of Reunion Giving, reports that an average of $4.5 million is raised annually by volunteers and staff as a result of class reunion programming. Classes celebrating their 5th, 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, and 50th reunions include fundraising for class gifts as part of their volunteer work. Gifts of all sizes and types, including bequests, are welcome, and they support all aspects of the College’s mission. “The success of our reunions is directly linked to the energy and enthusiasm of our dedicated volunteers,” Sally notes. “It is wonderful to see yesterday’s students keeping the Allegheny experience alive for those who follow them.”

For more information about becoming involved in your next class reunion, call Sally at (814)332-2996 or write sbarrett@allegheny.edu. You can also log in to Gator Connect to view and sign up for current volunteer opportunities for alumni.

When, How, and What We Give to Charity

What is the number one reason that people make gifts to charity? Quite simply, it is because we are asked. Less simple are decisions about where, when, how much, and what to give. Scores of nonprofit organizations vie for our support, so we winnow the list by focusing on those that speak to our values, goals, and aspirations. (And the occasional heart-tugging photograph that catches us at a vulnerable moment!) When, how much, and what we give are frequently related to life stages.

When we’re younger, we tend to make gifts of cash, as we have not yet attained assets such as stocks and bonds, real estate, and other investments. We give when it strikes us and as we are able, with considerations about tax benefits largely out of mind.

Timing takes on greater relevance as we get older, when we may begin to develop annual budgets for charitable giving and to itemize our deductions. Gift giving may be associated with fiscal (June 30) and calendar (Dec. 31) year ends. We also tend to find that the scope and sizes of our assets are expanding as we age, thus it makes sense to give from those that have increased in value: in addition to receiving a federal income tax deduction, we reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes. We may be more likely to give in response to personal requests from charity representatives and may find that, with planning, we can give more to charity than we ever thought possible.

When we reach retirement age, charitable gift annuities that provide a federal income tax deduction and income for life might be appealing. This is also a time when we take stock of our assets and begin to plan for their eventual distribution. We question how to best provide for ourselves and our loved ones while minimizing taxes and making meaningful impacts at our favored nonprofit organizations. Charitable trusts funded with appreciated assets including stocks, bonds, real estate, and collectibles provide substantial income tax deductions and income during life; reduce capital gains taxes; and leave significant dollars in support of organizational missions. Finally, gifts at life’s end made through wills, life insurance, and retirement assets provide special acknowledgment of the organizations that meant so much to us during life.

It is truly the case that there is a way to give for every person at every stage of her life. Visit Allegheny’s Office of Gift Planning or call us at (814) 332-6519 to identify gift options that suit your needs now and in the future.

Philanthropy in Action

During our years in college, most of us were blithely unaware of the impact that alumni contributions had on our academic careers. Scholarships, cultural events, conferences — they just happened. Without understanding the direct correlation between our colleges’ fundraising efforts and our own experiences, it may have taken us a while to begin making our own gifts. The Allegheny Student Advancement Association (ASAA) was established in 2014 by a group of students whose goal was to shorten that learning curve among their peers.

The ASAA is increasing awareness among their classmates and friends about the impact that donors make on their lives, and at the same time, they are helping donors to comprehend just what their support means on campus. This year, a leadership council of eight students has been coordinating a variety of fun, campus-based activities, including a popular trivia game where students earned prizes for correctly answering questions about historical and contemporary giving at Allegheny; a donor panel discussion about giving of one’s self and one’s finances; and Love-a-Donor Days — a week-long event that culminates in students, faculty, and staff writing hundreds of thank you notes to contributors.

Junior Sadie Longo ’19 sums up the feelings of her fellow ASAA members when she writes, “I love having a part in educating the Allegheny community about the great things made possible through alumni and donor involvement. Being able to become the bridge between current students and alumni has been a truly rewarding experience.”

A Life of Giving becomes a Legacy

Judy Berges ’63 – A Woman of Modest Means Who Made a Difference

Judy Berges ’63 filled many roles during her life: She was a daughter, a friend, a student, a teacher, a pastor, a part-time travel agent, and a philanthropist.

Judy, who lived humbly, passed away on February 28, 2017. Throughout her life, those who knew her say she firmly believed that you didn’t have to be wealthy to support charities and nonprofit organizations and to give freely of one’s time.

Judy donated to Allegheny for 38 consecutive years, and her legacy currently supports three initiatives at the College.

  • The Reverend and Mrs. Carl Edward Berges International Fund. Judy started this fund in honor of her parents. The income from this fund is awarded to an international student or to a student studying abroad to help defray educational expenses.
  • Judith A. Berges ’63 Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is given to a student who, without this support, might not be able to remain enrolled at Allegheny.
  • Judith A. Berges Fund for Religious Life, which provides support for the Spiritual and Religious Life Office.

“She was delighted and proud to be able to provide the College with a substantial gift through a bequest and two gift annuities on a teacher’s/pastor’s salary,” says Melissa Mencotti, director of gift planning.

“Judy often became emotional when I shared stories of student successes and struggles,” adds Jennifer Wardwell, the College’s director of major gifts.

Judy also was generous with her time, serving on the College’s Alumni Council and her reunion committees, and she was very engaged in her Western New York community.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Allegheny and a master’s degree in education from the University at Buffalo. She also spent a summer semester doing graduate work at the University of Oslo in Norway, where she first experienced the joy of travel and study away.

Her first career was as an elementary school teacher, and Judy taught in the North Tonawanda, New York, public schools for more than 30 years. She was also the longtime owner of a travel agency, Berges Tours, often sending special invitations to Allegheny alumni.

“Judy liked the back roads and places off the beaten path,” says Kathy Nelson ’59. “Our trips almost always included a boat ride, a train ride, and at least one surprise something. We saw the cows come home from the high Alps meadows, Father Christmas coming to town by boat, and visited a three-story model train exhibit.” 

After retiring from the classroom, Judy chose to follow in the ministerial footsteps of her father, graduating from the New York Conference’s lay ministry program and serving for many years as a licensed lay pastor. Judy’s service to the wider church was substantial. She was board chair of the United Church Home Society; served as secretary and then moderator of the Western Association; was on the board of Fox Run, the Western Association’s continuing care retirement community; and served for two terms on the Church and Ministry Committee. 

She also self-published Perusings of a Pastor (Xulon Press), a collection of sermons, meditations, and photographs. As a final gesture of giving, Judy donated her body to the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. 

Judy’s thoughtful planning will continue to provide opportunities for new generations, particularly at Allegheny. “She was fiercely proud of what she had saved in her private estate,” says Wardwell, “and extremely proud that Allegheny College would benefit from her fiscal discipline.”