"It is day to day, how-do-I-do-my-job takeaways"

Posted by kturner on Aug 12, 2021 01:11:26 PM

We sat down with CGP Conference registrant Craig Foster, M.B.A., CAP®, CFRE, Director, Major Gift Officer, with BaylorScott&White Dallas Foundation, to discuss the upcoming national conference in Orlando and online.

How did your career in charitable gift planning begin?
I began in stewardship when I was hired [at BaylorScott&White] because my background was in journalism. That was kind of an easier transition into writing and communicating in a development department instead of fundraising. I have an incredible colleague named Cynthia Krause, who's been really involved with CGP over the years, and she just got to know me and said, “I think you might be good at planned giving.”

I was eager to learn. I would sit down with her and just kind of go over the broad concepts, especially with things like bequests and charitable gift annuities, because that's primarily what we were receiving. I requested my own portfolio of people who had given consecutively, but not risen to the major gift level and then demonstrated that I could be productive with that responsibility while holding on to all my stewardship responsibilities. When a position became open on the development team, I transitioned into fundraising full time and a big concentration for me is still planned giving.

Craig Foster (smaller).jpgWhere do you see your planned giving career going?
Where I would like it to go is just becoming exclusively concentrated in gift planning. Because of my non-traditional evolution into development, I've continued to maintain some other major gift officer, MGO, responsibilities, but I would like eventually to fully transition into gift planning. CGP will play an instrumental role in helping me know what to do once that opportunity comes.

What are you most looking forward to at CGP Conference?
What I love about CGP versus other fundraising organizations that I've participated in is that I feel like I take away actual practical tips. I remember going to Craig Wruck’s “Planned Giving in a Nutshell” session and walking away feeling like I had a whole new perspective. It wasn't just, “Hey, these are trends in fundraising, or these are philosophical issues we're encountering in fundraising,” it was actual tips on how to do my job. Still being relatively new to it, that's vital for me to be able to pick up on those sorts of takeaways.

What advice would you give to people coming to the conference in person for the first time?
I would advise engaging as much as possible because it is a ripe opportunity to learn, network with other people, and grow in your career. I would still encourage everybody to really pick out the sessions in advance and figure out what they want to learn, then show up and actually participate. That was very beneficial to me the first year that I went.

What are some takeaways that you hope to learn and maybe bring back to your organization this year?
Honestly, I need refreshers on tools, especially with charitable remainder trusts. Those have become much more salient over the last year or two, and I would love to dive into more expertise on those and a variety of other things as well. But again, my biggest takeaway from the conference is just having something practical that I can take back, not necessarily as much about philosophy as it is day to day, how-do-I-do-my-job takeaways.

Why did you choose the in-person conference experience?
It’s just much more beneficial for my learning style to be able to be there in person, instead of trying to isolate myself in my office and balance the average workday with a virtual meeting. I have to look at the presenter and not pay attention to my laptop or email. And when the vendors have their happy hours, that's a great way to meet people… It is all around, it's a much better option for me.

What do you like most about your local and national memberships?
[The local membership] has been incredibly beneficial to get to know other folks who are doing the same thing that I am.  I know basically, all the big hospital planned giving officers in Dallas, who are all regular participants in the Dallas CGP chapter. Getting to know the other folks who are doing the same thing that I'm doing has been incredibly helpful.

The national membership has the day-to-day benefits that I get… being able to, to participate in the conference and the [CGP Link Gift-PL discussion]. That's a real tool for me to check and see much more experienced experts share their perspectives on what's going on. Again, it's practical. It's not hypotheticals about organizational behavior or subjective minutiae like the best salutations for annual fund letters. It's actually, “Hey, this is a relevant topic that will affect your job.

Ready to join Craig and other peers at the largest gather of gift planning professionals? Register now or learn more about CGP Conference. 


Topics: CGP Conference, Membership