Ella Nash Stories

The Data Is In: Women Give Differently Than Do Men

We developed The Ella Nash Society newsletter to focus on the special gifts of time, expertise, personal connections, and assets that shape women’s philanthropy. Our goal is to provide educational information to help Allegheny alumnae and female parents and friends make informed decisions about their own philanthropy. (Hello, male readers. We appreciate your interest!) Why a women-centered newsletter? With unprecedented access to education, fulfilling careers, and financial resources, women have become a powerful force for change and growth in the nonprofit sector —and the way that they give can dramatically differ from men.

Women’s philanthropy initiatives were established in the U.S. about three decades ago. The first program in higher education was started at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 by Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, who later wrote Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World (2010). Shaw-Hardy and Taylor were the first academics to study contemporary women and philanthropy. They and others have identified key characteristics of women’s giving:

  • Philanthropy is personal. Women generally like to be engaged with the organizations they support, and they value the personal relationships that they develop.
  • Women often learn about opportunities for volunteering and financially supporting organizations  through other women. 
  • Relationships, trust, and “doing good” are more important motivators to women than are income tax considerations and peer pressure.
  • Women like to collaborate and leverage their funds, making gifts collectively with others for greater impact.

Research is also showing that across income levels and generations, women are more likely to give, and to give more, than their male counterparts. 

We have also found this to be true at Allegheny when comparing giving data over a recent five-year period for single male and female donors. We found that:

  • There were 1.5 women donors to every one male donor overall
  • Double the number of women supported the Annual Fund or documented bequest intentions 
  • The ratio of women to men funding charitable gift annuities and trusts was almost 3:1
  • And single women’s lifetime giving was double that of single men

A predicted historic transfer of wealth to women from parents and spouses is occurring now, and economists predict that about $59 trillion in assets will pass from Baby Boomers to their children over the next 25 years. Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimates that women will inherit 70 percent of this so-called Great Wealth Transfer. Women currently control more than half of the wealth in the U.S. ($14 trillion) and could control two-thirds or more of it by 2030 as a result of the transfer.

You likely have, or will have, opportunities to influence charitable gifts, and it is important that you know how to best use your assets to do good. To learn more, contact Melissa Mencotti at (814) 332-6519, write us at giftplan@allegheny.edu, or visit our website at allegheny.giftplans.org

Planning Tip

Writing a check or making a gift by using your credit card may not be the most advantageous way for you to support your favorite causes. Giving stocks and bonds, real estate, and other personal property that has grown in value since you got it will provide you with an immediate federal income tax deduction   and will eliminate your taxable gain on the amount that you give to charity. See “Ways to Give” at allegheny.giftplans.org for more information.

Philanthropy in Action: Graduate Hopes to Pay it Forward

May 2019 graduate Colten Buzard got his start in digital marketing in 2016 with an internship supported by the George Andress Taaffe Jr. Endowed Fund for Economics. The fund was established in memory of Mr. Taaffe ’68 by his widow, Natalie Davis Taaffe Hoffman ’68, and close friends, John ’59/P’92 and Nancy Watkins Dunham’ 64/P’92.

Colten held a number of summer and school-year jobs and internships in his field—some overlapping—while majoring in economics, minoring in communication arts, playing defense on the Gators football team, and serving with the Andover, Ohio, volunteer fire department. Now employed as a digital marketing consultant and software developer, Colten would like to give back by, as he writes, starting “programs in my hometown to help bright young kids who don’t have many opportunities,” noting that “there were many times where I could have used mentorship and support.” 

We have no doubt that Colten will be a terrific role model, just like George, Natalie, John, and Nancy before him.

Philanthropy Leads to Life-Changing Research for Allegheny Senior

Senior Megan Arnold will receive her bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College in May and continue to pursue her dream of becoming an oncologist and cancer researcher.

Megan, a biochemistry major and psychology minor from Burton, Ohio, has enjoyed a stellar undergraduate academic career, punctuated by valuable cutting-edge research experiences during her four years, all made possible by generous alumni and other benefactors.

After her first year at Allegheny, Megan immersed herself in a two-month summer research experience studying the physiology of muscle contraction with Allegheny alumnus Anthony Hessel ’12 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Megan’s trip and expenses were funded by the Christine Scott Nelson ’73 Faculty Support Fund and the William S. Demchak ’84 and Debbie Demchak Student Internship Fund.

“It was intimidating coming to work in a lab like this, but once I got there I realized that my time at Allegheny had undoubtedly prepared me for this exciting challenge,” Megan says. “I was honored when one of my mentors complimented me on my work ethic and my willingness to take on new challenges.

“I knew this was a mindset I developed from the rigor of my coursework during my first year. It was rewarding to see the outcome of the work ethic and dedication I developed at Allegheny as a result of the endless support from my mentors and professors. They made me feel that no goal was unreachable, and they constantly encouraged me to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Doane Hall of Chemistry and Steffee Hall of Life Sciences

As a first-year student, and again in her sophomore year, Megan earned a PNC Bank Scholarship that helped defray her tuition costs at Allegheny. This current academic year, Megan received the John D. Wheeler Scholarship (John ‘61 and Margaret Wheeler), which follows a summer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, studying a potential treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Says Megan: “I wanted to be in a place where I could tell someone, ‘I have big dreams for myself,’ and hear them say, ‘That’s the way it’s supposed to be, and here’s how you can achieve them.’ I can say with complete conviction that Allegheny is this place. It is everything I could have ever wished for in a college and more.”

Megan continues to excel at Allegheny. She is the head resident advisor at Ravine-Narvik Hall, serves as a Sustained Dialogue moderator, volunteers at the Grounds for Change coffeehouse, mentors students in first-year seminars and chemistry and molecular biology courses, and plays on the Ultimate Frisbee team. In 2018, Megan received Allegheny’s Helping Hand Award, given to the student who exemplifies the ideals by which Brian Grogan ’99 lived his life: leadership, commitment, spirituality, respect for others, and personal sacrifice. She will graduate Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduation, Megan hopes to continue her education and eventually conduct research at the National Cancer Institute.

“My experience at Allegheny has been deeply impacted by the philanthropic acts of many different alumni and organizations,” Megan says. “Without their generosity and commitment to education, I wouldn’t have been able to attend Allegheny, which means I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am looking ahead to continuing to pay it forward throughout my life by using the knowledge I have gained here in service of other people, and one day donating to support future Allegheny students.”

Philanthropy in Action

Grounds for Change (GFC) is Allegheny’s volunteer and student-run coffeehouse. Located in the Campus Center, GFC provides a space for socializing, studying, intellectual discussion and debate, and community and campus events. Under the leadership of a 15-member board, GFC supports environmentally sustainable practices including purchasing organic, fair trade, and locally grown and produced products. We hope that future alumnae leaders are “percolating” among the GFC volunteers!

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.”