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Inside the ACGA Board: Crystal Thompkins

Crystal TompkinsEd small

I recently had the opportunity to speak with fellow ACGA Board member and author of this month’s article on CGA metrics, Crystal T. Thompkins, of BNY Mellon Wealth Management Planned Giving, about the ACGA, the hallmarks of a strong gift planning and charitable gift annuity program, and how she sees philanthropy and gift planning changing in the coming years.

Q: Occupation, current position:

BNY Mellon Wealth Management Planned Giving, National Director, Gift Planning Services

Q: What is something that you wish people knew or understood about philanthropy in general? About the ACGA?

I wish everyone bought into the idea that, no matter how financially wealthy you are, EVERYONE can be a philanthropist! It’s not just for “rich” people. As for the ACGA, I wish everyone knew and understood that the ACGA does more than just set the rates for gift annuities. That’s the most visible part of our work, and understandably so, but the ACGA is also a great resource for gift annuity program policies and procedures and provides other educational resources. And the history of ACGA started with advocacy for non-profit organizations, and that work continues today both on the state and federal levels.

Q: When did you join the ACGA board and what committees do you serve on?

I joined the board in 2016 though I’d been a member for several years prior, and have served on the conference, research, and communication committees. I’m really proud of the work done on these committees! In 2018 alone, we held a successful conference in Seattle, published the 2017 Charitable Gift Annuities Survey, and distributed a quarterly newsletter full of timely and useful information.

Q: What is a key challenge and/or opportunity facing the ACGA?

A key challenge and opportunity for the ACGA is educating the non-profit community about our work and attracting new members. We’ve got to continue to get the word out about the benefits of being a member of ACGA and introduce people in non-direct fundraising roles at charities – board members, finance, and other staff – to those benefits as well. The Frank Minton Leadership Academy, for example, is a great way for those folks to learn how to best understand and manage gift annuity programs.

Q: From your experience and perspective, what are the hallmarks of a strong gift planning and charitable gift annuity program?

Clients that have the most successful programs are those who make planned gifts a priority and a part of every fundraising conversation across the entire organization, not just the responsibility of the planned gift officer.

Q: How do you see philanthropy and gift planning changing in the next five or ten years?

I think that generally, we’re going to see people get more and more creative in the ways they give and increased demand to see the impact of their gifts. Planned and blended gifts are a great way to provide donors with flexible and creative ways to accomplish their philanthropic goals.

Q: What is your favorite motto?

Relax, Relate, Release: Relax-take a deep breath. Relate – make time for things you enjoy. Release – let it go! (I’m dating myself as this is an 80’s sitcom reference!)

Q: Words of wisdom for fellow ACGA members or colleagues in the philanthropy and gift planning community?

I think Relax, Relate, Release works well for everyone! Also, one of the most impactful ways to learn about gift planning is through connecting with peers and colleagues in the community. Build your own network at your organization and through organizations like ACGA, and as you learn and grow, pass that knowledge along to others.