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spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer October 16, 2008

Viewpoints - Philanthropy everyone can believe in

by Susan Murad


Susan Murad

When people start discussions with words like “charitable trust,” “gift annuity” and “estate planning,” I get that glazed-over half smile that makes me look a little like a political candidate asked to explain the Bush Doctrine.

So it might seem odd that I would be writing about the importance of planned giving at RIT. I don’t make the big bucks and don’t have a big title. Single mothers who get their master’s degrees one class at a time while working full-time and shuttling kids to soccer and voice lessons are not the very model of modern philanthropy—but then again, maybe we are. Or maybe we should be.

Establishing a planned gift—an endowed scholarship that will go into effect when I’m, umm, gone, was part of a promise I made during those days of graduate courses. Days when I would whisper a promise to my grandmother who, though she has passed on remains my spiritual touchstone, that when I finally got this degree I would honor her memory by establishing a scholarship in her name. A scholarship honoring a woman who did not attend school in her native Syria, yet sent any money she could back to her hometown to help support her deaf sister, who lived in a convent and was educated by nuns.

Thus the idea of the Mageeda Murad Endowed Scholarship Fund at RIT/NTID blossomed. At first, I was embarrassed to broach the subject with my colleagues—would it be possible for someone like me to do something like this? I had a ‘what if’ conversation with then-development officer Kathleen Martin, who didn’t laugh at all. In fact, she thought the idea was downright cool. Shortly thereafter, she produced the paperwork (which was easy to understand), I signed and voilá! Now all I had to do was make sure this was stipulated in my will and go about my business.

My planned gift is certainly not the biggest bequest RIT will ever receive. In fact, I figured folks here had forgotten about it. But it turns out that setting up a bequest enrolls you in the Ellingson Society – which explains why I get invited to all kinds of lovely events. No matter how small the gift, RIT wants you to know that it is appreciated and remembered.

I don’t particularly relish the concept of leaving this earth, but I am happy to know that when I do, students will benefit from a scholarship named after the tiny, yet amazing woman who did so much to help others. Those students will have what my grandmother wanted for her family—the opportunity to succeed. And that makes me very happy indeed.

Visit rit.planyourlegacy.org to learn more.

Susan Murad ’01 is marketing communications specialist at NTID.


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