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Planned Giving Jobs Can Make Fulfilling Careers For Lawyers

Careers in planned giving fall within the category of fundraising careers. At organizations like nonprofits, educational institutions and museums, you’ll often find at least one development director on staff who oversees fundraising.

Planned giving jobs tend to handle the more technically complex aspects of fundraising, dealing with gifts from donors that take more planning and negotiation than other gifts (like when donors make major gifts as part of their overall financial planning and/or estate planning via a will, trust, gift of land, gift of art, etc.). In fact, financial planners, wealth advisors and personal attorneys are often involved in these transactions.

Today’s guest, Steve Rosenblum, Director of Planned Gifts at the world class St. Louis Zoo, explains that while a law degree isn’t necessary for these roles, planned giving jobs make good alternative careers for lawyers.

  Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Steve is in his bedroom because it was the quietest spot in the house thanks to his kids! Not the best place for an interview, but he gave a great interview & shares great advice.

Today’s Guest

Steve Rosenblum, Director of Planned Gifts at the St. Louis ZooPlanned Giving Executive Steve Rosenblum
Title: Senior Director of Development
City: St. Louis, MO
Law School: Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, MO
College: The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, TX
Previous Career: At the time of our filming, Steve was Director of Planned Gifts at the St. Louis Zoo. Prior to his planned giving career, Steve worked on Capitol Hill doing fundraising for Congressional candidates and as an attorney at a political consulting and fundraising firm.
Videos: Planned Giving Jobs & Steve’s Career Advice

Planned Giving Jobs

Steve tells us that planned giving jobs are important in that planned giving generally brings in the largest dollar amount to an organization, even though the fewest donors take advantage of it. While the planned giving director can’t ethically prepare the legal documents and gifting structures, they spend a lot of time reviewing and advising on them to help donors make the gifts that work best for their wishes, their families and their taxes.

In today’s career video, Steve tells us everything we’d want to know about these law graduate jobs, including what a typical day is like, how to break in to the path, how to apply your legal skills from law school, who makes the best fit for this, and how to succeed once you’re doing the work.



This is a preview of the transcript for the video on working in planned giving.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone, today on JD Careers Out There we’re going to explore planned giving jobs. We’re going to be talking to Steve Rosenblum, the Director of Planned Gifts at the world class St. Louis Zoo. He’s got great advice on what planned giving jobs are like, where the work is, why it’s rewarding, what it takes to succeed, how your JD applies, and specifically how to network your way in.

As you may already know, at JDCOT we explore career paths both in law practice and non-legal jobs for lawyers to help you find a career that fits you and help you succeed using your law degree.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Our guest Steve has had a variety of great experience in planned giving jobs, so he’s got a lot of advice to share with us today. It’s gonna be a great show so stick around.

[theme song]

Okay, we’re back! Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Rosenblum: Thank you, good to be here.

Luber: Thanks for being here. So Steve, tell everybody what you do as the Director of Planned Gifts.

Steve Rosenblum: Right. So, as Director of Planned Gifts, I work with folks who want to leave something to the Saint Louis Zoo through a will, a trust, gift of land, gift of art, anything sort of out of the ordinary. It’s just not your typical gift. And we call it “planned gift” because it takes a little planning. So usually with some sort of financial planner, wealth advisor, attorney, something like that.

Luber: And are most of these gifts done while the people are still alive or they’re leaving this for after they are gone? How does that work?

Steve Rosenblum: So, it sort of runs the gamut. We’ve got folks who do some immediate gifts. And not in every planned giving office, but in most, they count some of the stock gifts. So, the more complex stock gifts usually fall into my lap and those are typically almost always lifetime gifts.

But then it also sort of spans where there might be what are called split income gifts where someone would make a gift during lifetime, receive benefits back like an annuity each year and then after death, the remainder comes to the Zoo, and those are called split interest gifts because part of it is during life, part of it comes after death.

And then there’s typical – the more typical sort of the bread and butter of any planned giving program are pretty straightforward bequests – so wills and trusts that become realized, as we call, it when the donor passes away. So the majority of them are through death gifts, as we call it.

Luber: Wow. Interesting. So, are you going out and finding the people or the estates to leave these gifts? Are you – I assume you’re not cold calling saying “Hey, it’s Steve at the Zoo” you know, how does that –

Steve Rosenblum: Exactly. So, in some cases, there’s a little of that but a lot of development, a lot of fundraising is getting out there, meeting folks, talking to folks and trying to get them. Somebody has already bought into your mission to give an annual gift or to give sort of a major gift or a gift for a campaign.

My job is a little different and I like that because I – to me, it’d be like banging my head against the wall if I had to keep raising annual gifts and going back and doing that each year. To me, they sort of bubble up, so by the time somebody gets to me, they usually have that connection to the Zoo.

It’s typically probably 80% of the time somebody that I know already somewhat and so it’s not a lot of cold calling.

It’s somebody who is making that sort of those decisions they’re at a point in their life where they’re deciding what their legacy is going to be and what they want to do and so it’s – they begin the conversation with me sometimes and then it moves on and continues with their attorney or their wealth advisor, and then probably the other 20% of the time, it just comes over the transom — all of a sudden there’s a phone call from an attorney and sometimes I know the attorneys just from working with them on other estates, but the attorney calls and says, “I’ve got a client who’s interested in talking to you about the Zoo, can you send me some information” and it sort of follows from there.

Luber: So, a lot of the people in that 80%, are they people who are maybe members of the Zoo already, they’re regular contributors and they come off of –

Steve Rosenblum: They are. I mean, you’ve hit the nail on the head and typically, it’s somebody who has been active with the Zoo, somebody that we do know, someone who’s been giving a long time and what we call them in our office internally are “loyalists”.

Somebody who has been giving, and really the dollar amount doesn’t matter. Sort of there was an old school mindset that if somebody’s been giving large amounts and they’ve made some major gifts, they’re a great planned giving prospect. It’s almost the opposite is true.

If someone has been giving consistently even at a $10 level or a $50 level, they are the folks who are like what I said, called the “loyalists”, the folks who might be the prime suspects to give a planned gift because they feel very connected. They want to support but oftentimes they’re the folks who have all their assets in a retirement plan or in their home – not liquid assets – so that they can’t be making these big lifetime gifts.

Luber: And so for someone who’s watching right now and is interested in this planned gift area, do they have to work at a zoo in their community or are there other roles that they could be doing?

Steve Rosenblum: You do not have to work at the zoo.

Luber: So let’s talk about where people can get planned giving jobs and much more. We’ll do that in the Full Interview. You all will hear from Steve more about what planned giving jobs are like, what type of stuff you’ll do on a typical day, what skills you’ll use, how your law degree helps in this non-legal jobs for lawyers, and how you can break in to planned giving jobs.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people have been saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2015 Careers Out There

Do you guys like monkeys as much as I do? Do planned giving jobs sound like a good fit for you? Let us know in the Comments!

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Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.