Founding of a National Association for Planned Giving


Charles Johnson, Michael Boland and Dick Wilson

Charles Johnson of the Lilly Endowment, Michael Boland of Harvard Business School, and Dick Wilson of NSFRE (all pictured above)1 became the leading advocates for a national organization with a decentralized structure: a federation of local and regional gift planning councils called the National Committee on Planned Giving (NCPG), now known as National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (NACGP).  From 1985 through 1987, the founders of NCPG convened gift planners from across the country to develop specific organizational plans.

NCPG was founded in 1988, dedicated to improving the performance of people whose work is critical for American philanthropy. Two immediate causes for creating a new national association were to provide more and better professional training, and to adopt new standards for professional ethics, so that well-qualified gift planners would find appropriate and effective ways for people to support the charitable causes close to their hearts.

Unlike the Committee on Gift Annuities (now ACGA), whose membership was limited to nonprofit organizations, NCPG aimed to include accountants, art auction houses and appraisers, bankers, financial planners, lawyers, life insurance agents, marketing and consulting firms, real estate professionals, and software developers, as well as fund raisers representing a rainbow spectrum of charities large and small, such as animal rights groups, religious institutions, hospitals, research universities, community colleges, soup kitchens, national professional associations, art museums, and public broadcasting stations. All these gift planners were encouraged to join local, regional, or nongeographic planned giving councils.  Councils with at least 15 members were eligible to affiliate with NCPG.

Visionary grantmaker Charles Johnson used the Lilly Endowment’s new grants to increase nonprofit fundraising capacity in planned giving: “the Endowment hopes to make a significant contribution to national efforts that elevate the state of the art and further professionalize development executives … the Endowment expects to focus national attention on planned giving, an area that offers much potential.” (Lilly Endowment annual report for 1986.)

Lilly Endowment Lilly provided a planning grant of $7,500 in 1987, and a grant of $185,000 to establish NCPG in 1987. Other Lilly grants to NCPG were: $7,500 in 1989 for an education/certification initiative; $120,000 in 1990 for general operating support; $85,000 in 1992 for research on charitable remainder trusts; and $7,500 in 1992 for distribution of the NCPG Syllabus for Gift Planners.

Lilly Endowment provided major grants to support planned giving programs among colleges in Indiana (1978), theological seminaries (1979), historically black colleges and universities, the Girl Scouts, and community foundations, and to develop the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) program (1983). Lilly also provided a start-up grant of $4 million in 1987 for the Center on Philanthropy in Indianapolis, which became the administrative sponsor for NCPG.


1 Photo credits: for Charles Johnson, Lilly Endowment at https://ourstateofgenerosity.org/leader/charles-johnson/; for Michael Boland, obituary in Boston Globe at https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n=michael-t-boland&pid=187384541&fhid=15205; for Richard (Dick) Wilson, Association of Fundraising Professionals at https://afpglobal.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2018-11/TheFirst50Years.pdf (page 31).

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