Member Spotlight: Aquanetta Betts

Posted by askirvin on Aug 10, 2023 12:00:00 AM

Congratulations to CGP member and board member Aquanetta Betts on her new role as Director of Planned Giving at George Mason University. We sat down with Aquanetta to discuss her journey into a career in gift planning from her start as a flight attendant, her new position and tips for success. 

Picture of Aquanetta BettsAfter a career as a flight attendant for 15 years, how did you find your way into gift planning?

I worked my way through undergrad and law school as a flight attendant. I would work two-day trips, packing my constitutional law and law books. I traveled, met wonderful people and saw lovely destinations. It’s helpful to have exposure to so many different places and people to better understand and appreciate our differences.

After law school, I opened my own practice working with wills, trusts and estates. So many people were coming in and leaving such kind and generous gifts and assets to charities they care about. My clients drove me to take another look at charitable gift planning as a career. 

Walk us through a typical workday. How do you balance your time?

My new role in the office is completely focused on building the gift program, which is exciting in many ways. Like most jobs, there’s a lot on the to-do list. I am always working on something new. I am new to the higher education sector where the mission is different compared to my previous positions. It’s a different approach to the way we do gift planning. 

I work collaboratively with many departments. I start the day with a look at the computer and my sticky notes listed with critical items. I am a list maker; I have bullet points with each item I need to address starting with the most important items at the top. Sometimes I get through all of them, while other days I manage to get through a couple. After each work day, I replenish my list with the things that are needed for tomorrow. 

What projects have you worked on?

Since I've been at Mason, I put together a planned giving brochure. The project entailed more heavy lifting than we initially thought. Revamping the Mason legacy society is the next big project. We already redesigned the planned giving website and are in the process of cleaning it up and making tweaks. We are adding resources for stewarding our donors and taking care of those who have been generous to Mason. I am slowly chipping away at everything on the list. Working through the portfolio, the data- it's a constant work in progress. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of working in planned giving?

Oftentimes seeing the largest gift for the nonprofit. This has been this way since the estate planning attorney role, with my work at the humanitarian org, seeing donors and supporters of these great organizations take the step of taking these non-profits and, oftentimes, make the largest gift to the non-profit. Seeing the feel-good moments for the donors and those who benefit.

What advice do you have for those just starting a gift planning career?

If you're interested- go for it! The other thing, make sure you reach out to those who are already doing the work. Most folks I know are willing to assist. Whether a meeting or a phone call, reach out to other professionals. The CGP Mentor program. I am always looking for learning and educational programming to further my skills. This work continues to evolve with trends, the economy, and other variables, constant lifelong learning is woven into gift planning. 

Becoming a member of organizations such as CGP for networking, memberships and mentorship are critical to working in the field. These associations provide built-in groups of people for support. Putting questions out in the CGP discussion board and using it to search for answers. I am excited to attend CGP conference in November! The sessions are always great, but I am really looking forward to seeing the folks I've met throughout the year that I might only see periodically. 


Thank you to Aquanetta for sharing her expertise with us. Join us in congratulating Aquanetta on her new role on social media.

If you have any career news updates, share them with CGP for the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming Member Spotlight.

Topics: Member Spotlight

Erin McQuade-Wright

Hear, hear! I join my colleagues in celebrating Aquanetta. As someone who recently received a generous amount of her time, I can attest that Aquanetta walks the talk when it comes to mentoring colleagues!