Ella Nash Stories

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.”

Your Bequest: Your Values, Changing Lives

Judy Berges ’63 made a major contribution to the College’s $200 million bicentennial endowment campaign, Our Allegheny: Our Third Century Quest, by including her beloved alma mater in her estate plans. Judy wished to maintain most of her assets during her lifetime in order to cover her retirement and potential medical expenses. By naming the College the beneficiary of her individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and including a provision for Allegheny in her will, she was able to make a substantial gift at her death. 

We welcomed Judy to the William Bentley Legacy Society (WBLS) when she documented her plans in 2012. The WBLS is named for Rev. Bentley, who bequeathed his library to the College in 1817. Bentley’s bequest provided the impetus to develop Bentley Hall to house the collection and fledgling college, thus solidifying its future. In a very real sense, Allegheny may be considered as much Bentley’s legacy as it is Timothy Alden’s. 

Virtually anyone can make a bequest regardless of age or income. Allegheny has received bequests ranging from $1,000 to more than $1 million in recent years, each one taking another step toward ensuring the College’s future. The youngest WBLS member graduated only four years ago! Bequests may be designated for a specific purpose, or left unrestricted to be used as the Board of Trustees elects. Unrestricted bequests currently support the general endowment.

The easiest way to make bequests is by naming your favorite charity (or charities) as a beneficiary of your IRA(s). You may designate all or a percentage of an account for a gift, and this can usually be done with your plan’s administrator online or by phone. Your IRA bequests may be shared with loved ones and organizations, but individuals will be taxed on their payments while 100 percent of your gifts to nonprofits are put to charitable use. Charitable organizations may also be named as beneficiaries of life insurance policies in much the same manner. Wills, completed with the assistance of an attorney, remain popular mechanisms for implementing donors’ charitable plans.

Please consult with your financial advisors and visit our website at allegheny.giftplans.org for detailed information on the variety of ways that you can shape your legacy at Allegheny and help to ensure that tomorrow’s students receive the same education as did you.

Angeline Sporrer ’18

For Angeline Sporrer ’18, springtime in Paris was, indeed, filled with love: for a language, culture, and city that she now regards as a second home. She spent 15 weeks in an immersive French language program that included taking liberal arts classes at Cité Universitaire and an eight-week internship at a non-governmental organization. Angie’s experience was possible, thanks in part, to a study away scholarship established by Judy Berges ’63. Angie returned to campus for her senior year this fall a stronger and more independent woman after having spent “the most amazing and hardest weeks [she had] ever experienced.” Judy would have been delighted.

Supporting Through Service

We dedicate this issue of The Ella Nash Society newsletter to the thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly to advance the College’s mission, and we invite you to learn about the myriad ways that you may be more actively involved in your Allegheny community.

Keri Fadden was named the College’s first director of alumni engagement in 2013. (Many of you will recall Keri from her days in the Office of Student Involvement and the Learning Commons.) Under her direction, our Volunteers in Support of Allegheny (VISA) program is expanding and now includes many opportunities for service, largely in conjunction with the Admissions and Career Education offices.

One of Keri’s charges was to oversee the development of an online community to connect alumni with students and one another, and rally thousands of volunteers in service to Allegheny—all in one place. We were delighted to launch Gator Connect in January 2017.

In 2015–16,
alumni volunteered for Allegheny.

Gator Connect features descriptions of current, typically short-term, volunteer opportunities (some are seasonal) and the means to sign up for them—from writing letters to prospective students to helping mentor current students to planning reunion activities. Gator Connect also includes information on volunteer opportunities with various academic programs in the classroom and other settings.

In addition, some of the College’s academic programs convene advisory committees and host short residencies for alumni professionals in their fields. The Center for Business & Economics (CBE), for example, has a 24-member advisory Board of Visitors that meets annually on campus. The CBE also hosts executives-in-residence who come to campus for one or two days to speak to classes, meet to provide career guidance to students and present a public lecture.

“See the “Gator Connect” page for key volunteer activities and details on signing up.”

In addition to volunteerism directed toward students and recent graduates, Allegheny relies upon alumni, parents and friends who devote extended time and energy on behalf of the College as a whole. At right are key leadership posts.

This newsletter showcases many of the most common volunteer activities, but Alleghenians serve the College in many other ways. Volunteers advise Greek and other student organizations, support athletics, help first-year students to move into residence halls, entertain us with their choral singing, document and share our history, and lend a hand when asked.

Allegheny is 200-plus years strong and growing because so many individuals like you care—and we could not be more grateful.

Gator Connect

Profile in Philanthropy: Planning to Give — and Giving Back

Katie Heckman ’07, Jeremy Heckman, and son, Connor

A different kind of favor greeted guests finding their seats at Katie Heckman’s wedding reception. Rather than spend money on objects that might soon be discarded, Heckman and her husband, Jeremy, left a note to let celebrants know that a gift had been made in their honor to Make-A-Wish International. That nonprofit, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, holds special meaning for the Heckmans. They’ve had several close family members and friends who have benefited from Make-A-Wish’s support, and the couple has in turn made it a philanthropic priority. “We know that every dollar we give (to Make-A-Wish) goes directly to an individual who needs a special experience, something fun,” said Katie (Pankowski) Heckman, a 2007 Allegheny College graduate. In making their philanthropic decisions, the couple considers where they can have the most impact, Heckman said. And that means formulating an annual plan for investing their charitable dollars.

Around the holidays, the Heckmans have an in-depth conversation to map out their giving for the coming year. “We look at our finances and determine what we can do and try to be smart about it,” she said. “We don’t have a huge amount of resources, but at the same time, we want to give back.”

Lessons in giving back run deep for Heckman. She recalls the basement of her childhood home brimming with stacks of boxes for a gift drive held annually for those in need. Her mother, Maureen, organized the program. She solicited donations, hauled presents from her workplace by the carload, and wrapped and distributed them.

“She’s been an inspiration to so many — not only to me, but to people across Pittsburgh,” Heckman said of her mother. Heckman said she hopes to set as good of an example for her eight-month-old son, Connor. Another generous spirit profoundly influenced Heckman while she was an Allegheny student. As a senior geology major, she had plans to attend graduate school. But Heckman also had mentioned to her advisor, Professor Emeritus Bob Schwartz ’66, that she would be interested in job openings in Pittsburgh.

Not long after, Schwartz received a call seeking candidates for a position at Equitable Gas Company (now EQT Corporation). The professor relayed Heckman’s name, and she interviewed with the firm over winter break during her senior year. Heckman, now a senior geologist, has worked there since graduation.

“I have a good job because Bob Schwartz stuck his neck out and Katie Heckman ’07, Jeremy Heckman, and son, Connor helped me get in the door,” Heckman said. “I want to give students that same kind of opportunity that was given to me.”

And Heckman is returning that favor in many ways today.

She frequently returns to her alma mater to work with students in the Geology Department. Heckman also has helped students to secure interviews for a summer internship program at EQT that attracts applicants from across the country. A few Allegheny students have landed those competitive positions, Heckman said. One even received an offer for full-time employment with the company. “It was rewarding to watch that student mature in her field and impress a lot of people,” she added.

Along with mentoring students, Heckman serves on and has cochaired Allegheny’s Timothy Alden Council Executive Committee. That group of volunteers helps to advise College staff and asks others to give to the Annual Fund, which forms a financial bedrock for the College each year. Through the Annual Fund Grant Program, the Heckmans have supplied $5,000 scholarships for two Allegheny students.

By being involved, Heckman hopes to show future alumni the importance of giving back — the same kind of generosity she saw radiated by her mother and Schwartz. Heckman wants students to experience not only the difference a dollar can make in someone’s life, but also the personal fulfillment that’s fueled by philanthropy.

“If you can do something that makes you feel good and helps others, that’s a win-win,” said Heckman. “The bigger the impact, the better you’ll feel.”

Philanthropy in Action: Aurley Morris ’15

Thanks to a generous gift by Aurley Morris ’15, Allegheny students will get some extra help for expenses while they’re gaining experience through internships. She hopes that her fellow alumni will join her in giving to the newly-established Internship Excellence Fund.

“The fund provides direct support for students looking to succeed after graduation,” Morris says. “Successful graduates, in turn, strengthen the network of Allegheny alumni.”

Like Mother, Like Daughter (Profile in Philanthropy)

Now an executive in the high-powered world of finance, Kim Tillotson Fleming learned about helping those in need when she was a young girl.

“We had parents who were active in organizations that do good work and give back, so it was part of growing up. I remember when I was young, we had a child with special needs join us one holiday,” she says. “It was something you were expected to do, and we found there is a lot of meaning in it.”

Kim’s mother, Carol Hefren Tillotson, says she learned the same lessons from her parents. They supported organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, which her father helped at holiday time by standing on a Pittsburgh street corner and ringing the collection bell.

In addition, “My parents helped people in need,” Carol says. “My mother took care of a friend’s daughter when her friend was hospitalized; my father helped provide a wheelchair for a young girl in my class. They believed in helping their community.”

“My parents helped people in need. They believed in helping their community.”

—Carol Hefren Tillotson

Carol remembers seeing families in poor neighborhoods, or someone who was blind or disabled and feeling deep sympathy and being very thankful for her own circumstances. Her earliest philanthropies were supporting the Butler Mental Health Association and the Spina Bifida Association, especially in helping to provide necessary services and housing.

Carol, a 1954 graduate of Allegheny College, and her late husband, Bill Tillotson, who graduated from Allegheny in 1952 and was a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, felt it was important to share the legacy of philanthropy with their children.

It was a lesson learned well by Kim Fleming, one of the Tillotsons’ three children and now the chairman and chief executive officer of Hefren-Tillotson, Inc. in Pittsburgh.

“If you have supported worthy causes and have found joy and meaning in it, you just want to do it again,” says Kim. “Developing the habit of philanthropy really starts with doing it and having a good experience. It is also important to directly see the benefit of what you have given and the impact it has had on a person or some other tangible benefit.”

Kim, herself now a member of the Allegheny Board of Trustees, and her husband, Curt, generously support the College. “I love the fact that Allegheny is a liberal arts school, and it reaches a really broad group of students from all backgrounds. Students who have financial needs can still attend Allegheny; they gain the full experience that college should be by being actively engaged and learning a broad range of skills. Allegheny fits our criteria for philanthropy very well,” Kim says.

The Flemings’ family legacy continues at Allegheny. Their sons Grant ’11 and Todd ’15 graduated from the College as did Grant’s wife, Courtney Kerr Fleming ’11.

The Flemings also support LiveLikeLou, United Way of Allegheny County, and the American Heart Association, among other nonprofits.

“I love the fact that Allegheny is a liberal arts school, and it reaches a really broad group of students from all backgrounds. Students who have financial needs can still attend Allegheny; they gain the full experience that college should be by being actively engaged and learning a broad range of skills. Allegheny fits our criteria for philanthropy very well”

—Kim Tillotson Fleming

Carol feels it is a privilege to be able to support the arts in Pittsburgh and Butler, as well as special health organizations, topped by LiveLikeLou (ALS) and the Community Health Clinic of Butler County. Associations that support research on diseases like cancer, heart, lung, and diabetes, that have been responsible for the loss of loved ones, are important also, she says.

“Bill said that much of what he was able to achieve, he owed to his time at Allegheny. We both felt very grateful to Allegheny for our experiences there,” Carol says. “It opened up new areas to me, such as sociology, religion, and psychology. I tried to apply a few basic principles from child psychology to raising my own children. I think it helped, because they are all fine young people today. Bill and I shared a desire to thank Allegheny College with our support.”

“My advice on philanthropy,” says Carol, “is to give in whatever way you are able to and for whatever it is you believe in.”

Kim, who recently was honored by the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball team with the Roberto Clemente Seat 21 Award for community involvement, said she and her husband make philanthropic decisions based on issues and areas of interest of most concern to them. She believes philanthropy and success in life are interwoven. “The people I know who are most successful are always focused outwardly and not inwardly,” she says. “These people have a tendency to help others and be the best they can be.”

Be Smart. Plan Gifts