At CGP Conference in 2017, Tiffanie Purvis received CGP’s first Rising Star Award. She was nominated by her boss at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who characterized her as “not one to sit around idle for even five minutes.” There will be another Rising Star this year, but Tiffanie is still shining in her new position as Assistant Director of Gift Planning at the University of Maryland College Park. We asked her to reflect on her transition from law practice to charitable planning.
How did you make your way to a career as a gift planner?
Well to be honest, it found me. I was practicing estate planning and landlord tenant work. A friend of mine approached me about a job in fundraising and development. Originally, to myself, I said no. I didn’t want to go out and “hound” people for money. As I did my research, I learned that in gift planning, asking is the small part. The large part is helping donors to achieve their philanthropic goals through a creative and strategic estate plan and that is what appealed to me. I love working with people and I love estate planning. A career in planned giving allowed me to still do what I enjoy but also support deserving organizations in their missions.
What are the high points of the past year?
Winning the CGP Rising Star award, of course! It was a true honor and blessing to be recognized; first by my supervisor at the time, whom I just adored - her belief in my abilities and wanting to recognize me was just amazing. Secondly, being recognized by CGP was icing on the cake. It validated for me that it was a good decision to think outside of the box and venture into a career that was new to me and could offer challenges and opportunities that would only foster my growth. I do believe over this past year it has. I’ve become a more confident fundraiser. I’ve started a new job, in a different fundraising setting which allows me to continue to learn something new. Lastly, I’ve built some incredible relationships with donors and colleagues, which is the best part. Building relationships is what we do.
What's your greatest strength as a gift planner? What's something you want to improve?
I’m a natural people person. I love talking to people, hearing their stories and connecting, especially with seniors. That’s why I originally chose estate planning as the area in which I wanted to practice. As one gets older, an appreciation for life and so much wisdom has been gained. I am genuinely interested in hearing about a person’s journey and family, gaining any little nugget of wisdom that I can. The more people feel comfortable with you, the more they will share. That in turn helps you, as a gift planner, help the donor make a charitable gift that is meaningful to him and beneficial for your organization.
Something I would like to improve on is the virtue of patience. I had to realize that sometimes gift planning is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time to develop the relationship and the gift.
What advice do you have for people who are considering or just starting work as a gift planner?
The same advice I give to myself--be patient. Gift planning is a craft. It takes time, nurturing and continuous work ethic. Yet, it is such a rewarding experience to help donors make their charitable wishes come true. Value what you do. You are working with someone’s legacy and family. Appreciate the trust they place in you and never take it for granted.