In Memoriam: Michael T. Boland

Posted by Gary M. Pforzheimer on Dec 18, 2017 8:00:00 AM

BOLAND, Michael T. Of Needham, formerly of Rochester, New York, passed on November 28, 2017. Beloved husband of Kathleen. Loving father of Jennifer (Deborah) Boland-Robertson of Walpole and Sharon (Keith) Bayer of Needham. Adored grandfather of Ciara, Michael, Eleanor and Kathleen. Predeceased by his sisters Patricia Laws and Joan Aman and his brothers Bernard Boland and Gerald Boland. Survived by his sister Mary Ellen O'Connor and brothers David (Julie) Boland and Timothy (Susan) Boland of Rochester, New York.

Mike was one of the few visionaries who touched the Planned Giving Industry at just the right time to leverage the tax laws, capital campaigns, a robust investment environment, and a hundred new planned giving programs sprouting up every year, in order to help form our national organization.  Although he focused on planned giving full time for less than 10 years, from about 1977 to 1987, his reach lasted long after he moved to Harvard Business School (HBS) to become the Associate Dean of External Relations.

Mike was an early leader of the Planned Giving Group of New England (where he received the David M. Donaldson Distinguished Service Award) and was also recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners' precursor, the National Committee on Planned Giving.

He was also my boss.  He hired all four founders of PG Calc – Gary and Mary Pforzheimer, Bill Laskin, and Winston Jones - and introduced us all to planned giving. It was Mike’s idea to hire Harvard undergraduates to write software to do planned giving calculations and gift administration. Later, he encouraged us to start PG Calc to further develop that software for use by other charities.  He even let me put an outside phone on a table in my Harvard office for our support line. Mike was a generous mentor, and served on PG Calc’s board of directors during our early years. 

Debra Ashton recalls: “In 1978, I was 19 and got hired from Boston Safe and Trust Company to start Planned Giving at WGBH. This was pretty overwhelming, but I was told by a member of PGGNE and that I should call a guy named Mike Boland at Harvard and go pick his brain. I called Mike, introduced myself, and asked if I could come over to talk about planned giving. He welcomed me with kindness and grace and he became an early mentor. Over the next seven years while at WGBH, I would go over to Mike’s office periodically for advice and grounding. It was so kind of him to help a 20-something negotiate her way, and I will never forget how much he helped me get oriented in the right direction when I was lost.”

André Donikian reminiscences that he “… had the great pleasure of meeting and getting to know Mike in the early 80s at the first meeting of the birth of the NCPG in Minneapolis, an event sponsored by Lilly Endowment and Charles Johnson. Mike was the real deal, he walked the walk and did not waste too much time on talking the talk. He was a man of great presence and charm and lent a hand to many people who achieved great success in our community. He created quite a stir going around to the various councils and round tables extolling the virtues of gift planning and how the top eleven gifts to Harvard's campaign had come from planned gifts and more specifically ten from charitable lead trusts. Naturally, this resulted in a mini stampede as gift planners scrambled to catch this latest wave that would bring their institutions untold riches from CLTs. Unfortunately their efforts did not amount to very much but did push planned giving to much higher status in development and institutional advancement. He was a great guy and I shall miss him.”

Pete Ticconi remembers Mike as “a good friend and mentor in my very early days as a rookie, while at Syracuse.  Mike came to our initial CANARAS meetings in the Adirondack woods and helped shape its practical exchange of information.  As he was coming from Rochester, he would pick me up in Syracuse along the way.  I valued those few hours coming and going.  Those were most fortunate trips for me soaking up every bit of information.”

John Lewis and Mike were among a working group of 5 or 6 people who had regular meetings in Indianapolis to discuss forming a national organization for planned giving.  He remembers: “I spent quite a bit of time over the years and I can’t forget the big guffaw kind of laugh.  Mike was always fun to be around, he knew his stuff and was a mentor to anyone who needed it.  He touched a lot of people who didn’t realize it because that was the kind of person he was.  He enjoyed life, and always wore black shoes and white socks.  Some of the best times were working with David Donaldson and Mike and others at CANARAS working on the code of ethics late into the night.”

Thom Lockerby worked for Mike at HBS: “Mike was always a champion of the new kid who knew nothing but was eager to grow. And while he was in a way the father of planned giving software, what I learned from him is not to shower the potential donor with numbers and charts—but to listen carefully to figure out that one thing that would mean the most. Mike was a natural teacher although his “visual aids” were often memos that he scribbled and doodled upon throughout a meeting—almost to the point of illegibility. Some of my best friends are women and men whom I met only because of Mike. We honor him and are honored to have been his friend and colleague.”

Jon Abrams reminisces: “In thinking about Mike, I remember someone who was always willing to share his knowledge without expecting anything in return, someone who made a difference to many colleagues by inspiring and enabling us, and someone who cared deeply about our profession.”

Mike Boland was a truly great planned gift fundraiser and leader, as well as a warm and generous person. We will miss him deeply, but those of us who knew him are grateful that we had a chance to learn from him and to hear his big-hearted laugh.

Topics: Obituaries