Gift planning is all about the future. So one would expect professional gift planners to be highly focused on tomorrow. But are we? I, for one, look at the transitions now faced by our field and find myself really glad that the CGP National Conference is coming up in October in Las Vegas.
Our field faces changes both high-profile and obscure. Of course, our organizations and donors are counting on us to adapt to recent tax reform legislation, and that has us all scrambling. Less urgent but no less important: those same organizations and donors are also counting on us to ensure the future of the gift planning field. In an environment where gift planning responsibilities are increasingly placed on fundraising generalists, and where the professional gift planning community is rapidly aging (only 12 percent of gift planners are under the age of 40), we all need to be thinking about the future of the profession.
We tell every one of our clients that thinking about tomorrow is time well spent. Isn’t that true for us planners as well?
Of course, when it comes to anticipating and preparing, members of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners have a distinct advantage. The local councils of CGP provide tremendous opportunities for professional education and peer networking, through luncheon programs, day-long symposia, and the simple opportunity to dial up a familiar colleague.
Such local learning is all well and good, but I submit it’s not a replacement for attending the CGP National Conference – for three reasons:
1. Gift planning is a national experience
Gift planning happens nationally. National tax and regulatory laws affect all our donors equally. Many charities, including smaller ones, have donors from across the country, so our ability to gift plan across states is important. The educational sessions at the CGP National Conference ensure we don’t lose the national perspective of what we do.
2. Regional perspectives hold important lessons
Gift planning professionals are nationally pervasive and regionally diverse. At the national conference, colleagues from elsewhere can offer insights not only into regional giving cultures but into regulatory trends that might soon make their way to our own localities. The national conference is not just a chance to hear presentations, but to collaborate with fellow gift planners in preparing for the future.
3. “Distance from the desk” is key to professional development
Attending a national conference removes you from your natural work habitat. In all-new surroundings, your nerve endings are exposed, you’re more focused on the experience, and you retain more. These days, disconnecting completely may be virtually impossible, but a national conference provides a better barrier from your job’s day-to-day demands. Getting out of town for successive days leads to a more immersive experience and a better bang for your professional education buck.
Nearly 70 percent of gift planners have made their own planned gift commitment – good evidence of their focus on the future. Now it’s time to turn that focus to the profession itself – with a trip to the CGP National Conference.