New.  Different.  Non-traditional.  These are terms executives and development officers have used since 1996 when first hearing about Thompson & Associates’ unique process of working with nonprofit organizations.  After working with us and seeing the benefits to the organization and their donors, the descriptions quickly turn to…  Successful.  Proven.  Results.

In the late 1970’s, Dr. Eddie Thompson, CEO of Thompson & Associates, wrote his doctoral dissertation on fundraising in higher education.  His timely research compared and contrasted the 13 most successful organizations with 13 less successful organizations by visiting each campus.  He found that the most successful organizations placed an equal emphasis on all three areas of fundraising: annual giving, major gifts/capital campaigns, and planned giving.  As a tripod requires three equal legs to steadily sustain its weight, a development department requires three equal focuses to steadily sustain the organization’s future.

Another common characteristic among the most successful fundraising organizations was their emphasis on relationships with their donors.  At his first development job, Dr. Thompson was given a desk in a small room with a list of names, a telephone, a telephone book, and a mandate to raise money.  He quickly realized he needed a plan to start building relationships.  Over the next few years, Dr. Thompson built some great relationships with influential donors.  However, his focus was still on getting the gift and the bottom line number of dollars raised.  After all, that was how he was evaluated.

During this time, the idea of Thompson & Associates was born in a donor’s living room.  Dr. Thompson was explaining a charitable remainder trust to this donor, emphasizing the great benefits to the organization from the arrangement.  Quietly taking the illustration, leaning back, and glancing over at Dr. Thompson, the donor spoke words that shaped our current process: “Eddie, all you care about is my money.” 

Ashamedly, Dr. Thompson knew he was right.  With few words, he gathered his papers off of the donor’s coffee table, excused himself, got in his car, and parked a few blocks away.  At that moment, he vowed to always put the donor’s needs first. 

Upholding this vow, Dr. Thompson has been very successful at every stop since.  He adopted a charitable estate planning process for his planned giving efforts.  After all, how can a donor truly know if a gift – especially a large gift – is right for them outside of the context of their overall estate plan?  Donors appreciated the process and the results were amazing.

However, there was still something missing.  Many donors were uncomfortable giving a representative of a nonprofit too much personal information.  While Dr. Thompson stressed that he was only concerned about what was best for the donor, he was still an employee of a nonprofit, dependent on gifts to survive.  If I show him all I have, the donor reasons, he will want it all.  There had to be a better way to truly put the donor’s needs first.

In 1996, Dr. Thompson started working with his first nonprofit client as a consultant, offering confidential charitable estate planning services to its donors.  As a consultant, Dr. Thompson could truly meet the needs of each donor without any perception of bias: he did not ask for gifts, draft documents, manage money, sell insurance, or benefit in any way from his recommendations.  He could focus on truly helping donors achieve their planning objectives.  Predictably, the results of the process were phenomenal. 

In 1999, Eddie realized he needed help.  He joined forces with his current partners, Melinda Magyar and Cayce Powell.  Melinda makes sure the administrative side of the company runs smoothly.  Translated: she takes care of all the details.  Her assistance and persistence has allowed Eddie, and the rest of the company, to focus on the nonprofit clients and their donors.

Cayce Powell, after earning his law degree and MBA, worked in a law firm focusing on estate planning.  He brought his practical legal experience to the planning process.  In addition to working with his own nonprofit clients, Cayce quickly started preparing the recommendations companywide for any donor who went through the planning process. 

The team approach proved very effective in providing detailed and personal recommendations to each donor.  One person handled the personal interaction with the donor, guiding them through the plan and explaining the nuances of each tool.  The planning attorney handled the details and worked with the donor’s advisors to assist with drafting and implementation, if needed. 

Throughout the years, our unique and innovative approach has attracted the top development minds in the country, and we have kept the best.  Just glance at Our Team.  Our combined experience and knowledge cannot be matched.  Each member we add to our team brings with them years of development experience which improves our company.  Our Team consists of thirteen attorneys with extremely broad experience.  Based on team members’ experience and suggestions, our work with nonprofits and the planning process has improved and continues to evolve.  Our process gets better all the time.

In addition, we have two full-time planning attorneys, whose sole focus is working with our other consultants to custom-craft plans for donors.  The attorneys are always available to assist not only the consultant, but the nonprofit client directly, the donors, and professional advisors associated with the organization or its donors.

Since the humble beginning in 1996, Thompson & Associates has endured several corporate restructures.  But, at its core, it still remains true to the initial mission of providing the highest quality charitable estate planning services to nonprofit organizations and its donors.
Successful.  Proven.  Results.