Passionate About Haverford and the Power of Planned Gifts
William J. Marsden, Jr. '78 and Sheila K. Sachs share similar passions: they have found professional satisfaction and success as attorneys; they both love Haverford and serve on the Board of Managers together; and they believe in the power of planned gifts such that both are planned giving donors and planned giving co-chairs for Lives That Speak: The Campaign for Haverford. Their respective introductions to the College could not, however, have been more different.
Haverford's basketball coach visited William's high school one day, looking for prospective team members. William was on his high school's team at the time and the coach recommended him for his athletic ability and high SAT scores. Two weeks later, William visited campus for a tour and interview. "Once I had an opportunity to get to know the place a little better I was sold," he remembers. "It was small and intimate. The students were smart and engaged."
Sheila first visited campus in the spring of 1960 with her husband, Stephen H. Sachs '54, but, "My real introduction was when I accompanied Steve to his 25th Reunion," she says. "I can't tell you how surprised and delighted I was to find that his classmates were people who shared and cared and who were not trying to impress anybody. It was a special experience."
These early impressions of Haverford seeded in both William and Sheila an enthusiasm for the school that, in both cases, would eventually become multi-generational.
Quakerism had a profound influence on William during his time at Haverford. He was very involved in Quaker affairs on campus and became a Quaker after graduating, eventually joining the Corporation of Haverford College. Before attending law school at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, he worked for a year at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, D.C. Today he is the founder and former managing principal at Fish & Richardson P.C.'s Delaware office, where he specializes in patent and other technology disputes. He and his wife, Ellen, a graduate of Earlham College, reside on a farm near Avondale, Pennsylvania, and are members of London Grove Monthly Meeting. Their three children—Benjamin, Margaret and Emma—attended Westtown School, and Ben '08 and Emma '13 graduated from Haverford.
Sheila earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland after attending Vassar College and obtaining a B.A. from Goucher College. She is a member of the law firm Gordon-Feinblatt, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland, where she devotes a substantial part of her practice to the field of family law. Sheila has served on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and Board of Trustees of Goucher College, as well as many community and professional organizations. Public service is extremely important to her and to her family. Steve, a former United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and Attorney General of the State of Maryland, was Students' Council president at Haverford and interacted directly with then-president of the College Gilbert White.
"Gilbert White was very significant in my husband's experience," Sheila explains. "What Steve learned from observing and interacting with White is what Steve calls ‘principled leadership.' I think that is something that is valued at Haverford." Sheila and Steve's children value it too. Elisabeth '87 directs a workforce development organization and Leon '89 is a professor at the University of Kentucky. Both followed in their father's footsteps, and the family's Haverford legacy extends to Sheila's son-in-law, David Sheehy '88, and nephew Alex Kleinman '94. She hopes that the next generation "will recognize what is unique in a Haverford education and will choose the institution."
But, family is not the only way in which William and Sheila have perpetuated their families' Haverford legacies. Planned giving has been a personally meaningful—and financially practical—way for their families to give back to Haverford. Sheila's introduction to the concept of planned giving came over dinner, more than 15 years ago, with a Bi-Co couple who were making planned gifts to Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. "It made me think," Sheila says, "that here are people who worked in public service and higher education and yet they are doing something that will perpetuate institutions they love and respect. I thought, if they can do that, why can't we do that." Soon after, Sheila and Steve made a provision for Haverford in their wills. "Then I became aware of annuities," Sheila continues. "We had to think about retirement. Gift annuities would provide for us in years when earned income would be reduced. But, after we no longer needed the income stream, the assets could benefit the College. It was also an economic benefit to us because we got substantial charitable income tax deductions in the years when we established the annuities." The annuities they established will eventually benefit the Sachs Family Fund for Public Policy and Public Service. The Fund, which will eventually be fully endowed, has been partially funded for current use so that Sheila and Steve may see how it benefits the College during their lifetimes. "It is rewarding to get a letter from the College every year that tells us the status of our fund and how it was used in the prior year. It is good to know that the institution is shepherding the money and is very sensitive to the donor knowing how their contribution is being deployed."
William and Ellen's planned gifts will be added to the College's unrestricted endowment, the income from which will benefit the greatest needs on campus as they evolve over time. As a student, William did not realize what he now knows given his role as a board member: "Those who pay full tuition, even their education is subsidized by the endowment. I was someone who went through on financial aid, so in that sense I had an even greater debt." Feeling a strong desire to repay that debt, William and Ellen made their first planned gift in the form of a life insurance policy. Then, after joining the Board of Managers, William learned about annuities. "In the current financial environment, having a component of a retirement income…is beneficial and tax-advantaged as well. It met our needs very well, allowing us to step up our overall contribution to the Lives That Speak campaign." In addition, the Marsdens have participated in and sponsored special giving challenges in both the current campaign and previous one, Educating to Lead, Educating to Serve. Those challenges have focused on annual gifts from William's classmates in honor of their 35th Reunion, and, more recently, to encourage young alumni to make gifts that would qualify them for membership in The 1833 Society.
Now, as planned giving co-chairs for Lives That Speak, William and Sheila have encouraged their fellow board members to make planned gifts—the majority of whom have—and they are urging all alumni to consider making a planned gift. These gifts have a dramatic impact on the strength of Haverford's endowment and bring the College closer to its $225 million campaign goal. "It's almost like doing a grassroots campaign," Sheila explains. "If everybody does what they can through planned giving, it will fortify the institution tremendously." William adds, "There's a ‘toolkit' out there. There are many, many attractive options that can be tailored to fit almost anyone's situation. If you talk to the folks in development, they can figure out what works best for you."
To find out how your planned gift can be credited to the Lives That Speak campaign, click here.