Interview with Chris Bicknell ’87 P’21 ’25, Board Vice President; adapted from Summer 2011 Trumpet of the Swan.
What is planned giving and why is it important for Sant Bani School?
Planned Giving – or “gift planning” as it is now called – is a way to help secure the future of things we really care about. Gift planning for Sant Bani is focused on the future of the School, on the young people who will be coming to SBS for generations. As we look ahead and realize that it is time to do something that will matter, we make a plan now that has benefits for years to come.
Most legacy gifts are used to build the endowment. An endowment can help an institution weather a stormy year, allow it to undertake a special project, or, in Sant Bani’s case, provide much-needed scholarship dollars. While it is usually only huge legacy gifts that are featured in news headlines, the vast majority of endowments across the country are created and grown through simple bequests (designating a gift to Sant Bani in your will). It is very simple and yet very powerful: these acts of kindness are critical for Sant Bani to be able to serve generations of children in the future as it has in the past.
Why is SBS a worthy place to leave a legacy gift?
Let’s start with the mission. For anyone associated with the Spiritual Teachers who founded and helped sustain Sant Bani, Sant Kirpal Singh and Sant Ajaib Singh, this is a place where their universal lessons are shared with young people who then go out to places all over the world.
For those who believe that it is important for students to have a high quality, values-driven education based on service to others and believe that small class-size, unique learning opportunities and strong human interactions are critical to that, Sant Bani fits the bill perfectly. With the School’s unique scholarship program, doors of opportunity are being opened that would otherwise be closed.
Finally I would consider the area of fiscal responsibility and strength. Sant Bani is very fortunate to have a modest endowment of $5 million that is being managed very well, so we already have a good start. SBS also works hard to make the most of limited resources; spending on operations and administration is kept within industry benchmarks for effective support of the program and the classroom experience. We have generous friends from around the country and the world. The largest legacy gift thus far (over $800,000) came from a friend in New Zealand. We are incredibly fortunate to have a sustaining donor who supports the annual scholarship program and has provided for the School in his estate. We have a dedicated faculty who create a supportive and challenging educational environment on a carefully minded budget. Another asset is an experienced and generous Board who are strong stewards of Sant Bani’s mission and the donated funds.
How is Gift Planning different from just writing a check? How does it work?
For most of us it comes down to what we can do and when we can do it. Many of us can afford to make an Annual Fund gift of some kind out of our current income. If we are fortunate and have assets to dip into, then we can give something now for the Endowment. But for most of us, our contribution to the Endowment will come through a legacy commitment to SBS that we have arranged well before we die. After we have taken care of any commitments we have to our family and others, we can request in our will that a gift go to the School.
I often see how powerful these gifts are. Sant Bani recently received a legacy gift of over $300,000 from a benefactor who, over the years, made small gifts to the Annual Fund totaling just under $2,000. The power of these gifts, particularly as the number of people willing to make them grows, cannot be overestimated. We are very fortunate to have nearly forty people we know of who have arranged for SBS to receive legacy gifts.
What are the giving vehicles? What are the options?
I encourage everyone to start with the simplest way to create a planned gift, and that is to identify the School as a beneficiary of your estate through your will or trust. Other simple options are to make the School a beneficiary of a life insurance plan, retirement plan, IRA, etc. There are other methods that are more complex, such as annuities, charitable lead or remainder trusts, but those need careful discussion with your financial planner as well as the School.
Would you like to discuss a planned gift?
Please contact Brooke Pearsall, Director of Advancement, 603-934-4240 or brooke at santbani dot org.