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Planned Giving and the Flynn: Taking the Long View

Flynn Marquee DecLeigh Phillips and Mark Langan, both estate planning attorneys and Flynn board members, are active volunteers on the Flynn’s planned giving committee and members of our Legacy Society. Legacy Society members help ensure that future generations continue to experience the joy of the performing arts by including the Flynn in their estate plans. Planned gifts support the Flynn’s endowment, which is used each season to assure high quality and diverse programming, artist residencies and commissions, and education programs. Because distributions from endowment funds are structured to maintain principal, endowment gifts provide programming support in perpetuity. We hope to grow our $7.7 million endowment to $10 million over the next few years to help the Flynn stay financially sound and continue to be a leader in the presenting field.

What is planned giving, and why does it matter to you?
Leigh: I feel it’s a matter of values: most people have one or more nonprofit organizations that they care about and want to help. I believe in giving back to the community by supporting organizations like the Flynn, and planned giving is an important part of that support. I know that “planned giving” and the lingo associated with it can seem a bit overwhelming, but really—it is something we all can do.

Everyone has family and other obligations to consider in their estate planning. How can people respect these obligations while also supporting the Flynn and other nonprofits?
Mark: All good nonprofits understand that everyone has a variety of commitments. But just think about all those great folks who give the Flynn a $50 membership each year—they care about the arts. In fact, some of them have been doing this for 30 years! It’s amazing; they really are the lifeblood of the Flynn. Think then how wonderful it would be if those members decided to “endow” their annual membership gift when planning their estates.

Leigh: The idea of “endowment” is an important one that everyone should consider. A $50 annual donor could make a bequest of $1,000 in his or her will—basically a gift from his or her estate—to the Flynn. This “planned gift” would, in essence, be an endowment of his or her annual gift.

It’s the “rule of 20”: just take your annual gift and multiply by 20. That amount generates a five-percent annual rate of return in an endowment fund. Since our general policy is to put estate gifts into the Flynn’s endowment fund, such a bequest produces an annual distribution, allowing your annual gift to go on forever.

What’s the first step a person should take if considering planned giving?
Leigh: It’s always wise to contact an attorney for any estate planning, including a bequest or other type of planned gift, but if that is a hurdle, there is another option. Many people don’t realize that an IRA gift is an extremely easy way to help a nonprofit. Just make a phone call to your IRA contact person. You can change your beneficiary designation to add the Flynn (or another nonprofit) as a beneficiary for even a small percentage of an IRA. By doing so, you make another type of planned gift and help a nonprofit organization while still taking care of family members.

Mark: Planned giving doesn’t have to be complicated. The important thing is that you don’t have to be a millionaire —you just have to care. We all want our values to live on in a concrete way, and planned giving gives people the chance to do that.

For more information about planned giving and the Flynn’s Legacy Society celebration for donors, visit our website at or contact Gina Haddock, or 802-652-4533.

Planned giving committee gathers together to discuss planningfor the year. Clockwise from center front, Pat Harwick, Ray Harwick,Sandy Jacobs, Mark Langan, Leigh Phillips (chair of committee),Aida Luce, Sandy Enman, and Gina Haddock. (photo: Frederic Silberman)

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Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
153 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Tickets: 802-863-5966, voice/relay calls welcome
Administrative Offices: 802-652-4500 (P) 802-863-8788 (F)
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