3 questions to ask before meeting with a gift planner from Duke University

Helpful ways to prepare and plan for your first charitable discussion

Congratulations! You have scheduled a meeting with a gift planner from Duke University. (If you haven’t, let’s just say you have for now…) What types of things will she ask you? What questions might you think through now? Read on to learn a few ways to prepare for your appointment in order to get the most benefit from the meeting.

1.  Ask: why is Duke important to me?

Perhaps you are considering a gift to Duke through your will, or designating Duke to receive a portion of your retirement account, or establishing a gift that pays you an income during retirement. Your gift planner’s role is to help you think through those options. But she’ll also be concerned with the bigger picture: what impact do you want to have at Duke? What about the university is most special to you?

For example, many of our alumni who received a scholarship while a student are intent on “paying that forward” by providing financial assistance to future Duke students. Others believe that supporting Duke’s research mission is a high-impact way to help solve the world’s most pressing problems, cure diseases, and leave a better world for the next generation.

In helping you plan your gift for Duke, your gift planner will want to learn more about your interests on campus. She’ll also discuss Duke’s short- and long-term priorities, as these may also inform how you designate your gift to be used once Duke receives it (many, many years in the future!).

2.  In addition to supporting Duke over the long term, what are your other financial goals?

The goal of gift planning is to help you support the university in a way that’s most meaningful to you while also helping you to accomplish other financial and personal goals.

Are you hoping to designate a gift in your estate, in such a way that keeps your assets available during your lifetime if you need them? Or are you looking for an additional income stream during retirement? Do you own appreciated stock that you’d like to have diversified in a tax-free way? There are planned giving techniques that can help you accomplish each of these goals, and more!

Please note, your gift planner is not a financial advisor, practicing lawyer, or accountant. Instead, her role is: to help you and those advisors consider your options; to assure that your planned gift will be used at Duke in the way you intend; and to help maximize its impact on campus. As such, she will urge you to discuss any giving plan with your professional advisors who are best able to determine what suits your specific financial needs and circumstances.

3.  Who else will be involved in making a gift planning decision?

Every family is different. In some, there is a single person who generally makes financial and philanthropic decisions. In others, spouses share this role equally. Some people make these decisions in consultation with their children or a close, trusted friend. And, as noted above, we highly recommend that you consult with your lawyer, accountant, and/or financial advisor. You can bring any of these folks with you when you meet with your Duke gift planner; she’ll be delighted to meet them as well! Of course, if you’d prefer to meet with her one-on-one, that’s fine, too.

While I’ve suggested a few things to consider before meeting with your Duke gift planner, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time…even if you don’t have answers to these questions. We are here to help you and your advisors walk through this decision-making process, helping you have an impact at Duke in a smart, strategic way that “fits” you.

TAGS: Duke's Gift Planning Team

About the author

Jeremy Arkin


With more than 15 years of experience in gift planning and development, Jeremy helps alumni find ways to support Duke that complement their larger personal and financial goals. He understands the ins and outs of giving techniques that involve tax, retirement and estate planning. He also develops strategies for donating complex assets such as real estate and private business interests. When he’s not at work, Jeremy attempts to channel Ron Carter and Ray Brown while playing his double bass.