Volume 4 Number 4
Class Stewards Cultivate Relationships
Since 1978, some alumni/ae have volunteered to help Princeton Seminary maintain lasting relationships with its graduates. Called class stewards, they represent their respective classes stretching from last years graduates back to the Class of 1951. They believe giving to the Seminary is more than a financial commitment.
"I take it as an opportunity to communicate with my classmates. I include information that might be of interest to them about myself and the Seminary, and I learn from them what is going on in their lives," says the Rev. J. Raymond Brubaker (60B), who is in his thirty-second year as pastor of Pennside Presbyterian Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, and his fourth year as steward of the Class of 1960. Brubaker, along with stewards representing graduates from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, revisited the campus February 45 to attend a workshop sponsored by the Office of Seminary Relations. The workshop provided first-time stewards the opportunity to learn their new responsibilities, while providing veterans like Brubaker a chance to make new acquaintances and to renew old ones.
"The stewardship weekend gets me back on campus," Brubaker says. "Its a break from the parish, but also a chance to relate to other graduates who are involved in similar ventures. It is re-creational in that it allows new relationships to form, and that is what so much of being a class steward is about."
Class stewards are the primary source of contact with former graduates, serving as liaisons between their classmates and the Seminary. Their major financial objective is to raise money for the Seminarys scholarship fund, money that goes directly to current and future PTS students. Class stewards are more than fund-raisers, however, and they consider relationship-building their key task.
First-time class steward for the Class of 1999 Jane Brady says that her reason for taking on the role of steward is two-fold. "Fund-raising is based so much on developing relationships, and class stewards are involved in this as an ongoing, long-term effort. Id like to stay in touch with folks for fund-raising reasons, of course, but also for personal reasons. When I graduated from PTS, I thought I would stay in touch with so many friends, but that has been harder to do than I thought. Now I have a chance to catch up with people."
Brady, a chaplain at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has considerable experience in fund-raising. Before entering seminary, she was director of development for the New Jersey Audubon Society. While a student, she also worked with the Seminary phonathon.
Bradys experience taught her that there are many people hard at work to ensure that Princeton Seminary remains a quality institution. "I am learning to value the sacrifices people make to help Princeton continue to be a diverse educational community. That is one thing that is so wonderful about PTS. As a student, I had a very diverse community just sixty-five miles away from my hometown. A lot of the students who help make the community diverse, especially international students, could not attend without scholarship aid provided by the contributions of former students."
A message for the Director of Planned Giving
During the course of the campaign now in progress to fund the Miller Chapel Restoration Project, I have been impressed by the number of those who have elected to support this effort through gifts made in memory, honor, or appreciation of someone special to them. Parents, family members, special friends, colleagues in business or ministry, pastors, teachers, or mentors are among those whose names have been lifted up in this way.
There is nothing new about this, of course, as alumni/ae and friends of our institution have made such gifts to meet a variety of needs here through the years. Remembering someone in this way who has nourished and helped shape us, encouraged or inspired us, or been there with us and for us in both good and challenging times brings particular satisfaction to a donor. That satisfaction is compounded by the realization that such gifts will also advance the mission of the Seminary as it prepares women and men who study here for service to the church.
While gifts toward the Miller Chapel Restoration Project can be made outright or through a pledge payable through January 2002, life income arrangements available through the Seminarys planned giving program are an alternative that could enhance the amount given and also prove beneficial to the donor from a tax and estate planning perspective.
Life income arrangements typically provide income for the donor during his or her lifetime and then become the property of the Seminary for its general purposes or for a special purpose, such as the restoration of Miller Chapel, as specified in the formal agreement at the time the gift is made. Provision may also be made for a spouse or other beneficiary. According to the needs and desires of the donor, income can be in fixed or variable amounts. In all instances, the donor is entitled to a charitable deduction for income tax purposes and, if the gift is funded with appreciated property held longer than one year, to capital gain savings as well. Seminary policy requires that life income gifts be in the amount of one thousand dollars or more and that donors and beneficiaries be at least fifty years of age.
If the thought of remembering or honoring someone special to you through a gift in support of the Miller Chapel Restoration Project or of another Seminary activity appeals to you, please let me or my colleagues Gene Degitz or Dick Gronhovd know. If your interest is in making a gift by means of a life income arrangement, I will gladly provide you with more detailed information about the plans offered by the Seminary.
For more detailed information about each plan, please visit our website at www.ptsem.edu or call me at 800-622-6767, ext. 7756 or 609-497-7756.
Phonathon Nets Record Total
In March 1998, the Seminary took a new approach to staying in touch with alumni/ae. In addition to appeal letters and the work of class stewards, the Office of Seminary Relations gained help from those with an insiders understanding of the current state of the Seminary: the students.
The phonathon has PTS students and spouses contacting alumni/ae for updates on their post-seminary lives. Through these conversations the Seminary learns about everything from career changes to new children, and also provides an opportunity for former students to give back to their alma mater.
Since the initial calls in 1998, the phonathon placed calls to 12,731 graduates during four different campaigns, raising more than $60,000. The most recent phonathon, held during the first three weeks of February, raised $20,500 in fewer than 3,000 attempted calls.
Michael Mann, an M.Div. senior who called alumni/ae from the 60s, 80s, and 90s during the February phonathon, reflects on the advantage of having students make these calls: "People feel more comfortable giving when they are talking to someone who is familiar with the campus and life at the Seminary. Its a good starting point for conversation."
Manns experience was that only a few people were uncomfortable talking on the phone with a stranger. "Responses were a mixed bag, but most didnt mind talking to me," says Mann. "And it was good for me to be in touch with former students, to hear their stories. It was good to be pastored by them, and even to be their pastor on occasion."
The Office of Seminary Relations anticipates another phonathon campaign October 219, 2000. Alumni/ae, dont be surprised if you get a call!
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