Shaped by Stories

We are shaped by stories. Marketers, sales representatives, even politicians use them to alter our behavior and change the way we think. Stories captivate our senses; they not only keep us on the edge of our seats, but they stay lodged in our memories far longer than facts or statistics. 

Stories have meaning, too. They hold important truths that ground us to values we cherish and encourage us to continue legacies established by our family. For Jim and Kathy Adams, stories are examples we leave for others. 

Stories and examples made a lasting impact on Kathy and Jim, which helped them discover opportunities for serving and leadership early in life. They heard stories of family members’ generosity and witnessed first-hand as their own parents and aunts and uncles served others and donated what they could. 

Kathy remembered being on the board of a charitable organization during a large campaign. “While we were at one meeting a board member stood up to address us,” Kathy said. “He shared that he was making a seven-figure gift to the campaign and the way he expressed why he was making that gift was so moving he encouraged everyone else to be more generous. We knew that gift was sacrificial for him, and his example inspired us to do more.” 

When Jim was in his 20s, he was first exposed to the idea of fund-raising through charitable bequests – gifts of assets left through an individual’s will or estate plan – while serving on a nonprofit board. He was compelled by the power of a charitable bequest to enable an organization to fulfill its mission over the very long term. Through their volunteer work, he and Kathy continued to be inspired by the stories of the future others made possible, and began to include charitable bequests in their plan. Last fall, they decided to make a comprehensive giving plan of their own that included bequests to organizations they believed were making a difference. As a TMF board member, Jim knew one of the organizations he wanted to support was TMF. 

“TMF is so important,” Jim said joyfully. “We have seen six or seven decades of membership decline in mainline protestant denominations and TMF is helping improve church leadership and attempting to reverse that trend. It has unique characteristics that marry financial resources and leadership development; plus, it offers thought leadership and space for convening leaders across the broad spectrum of the United Methodist Church. TMF is a creative ministry that leverages what it does uniquely well for the benefit of the whole church.” 

To enhance TMF’s position as a creative ministry, Jim and Kathy decided to leave TMF an unrestricted bequest in their will trusting the future board to determine how the gift can best fulfill the mission of TMF. This level of trust and flexibility affords TMF the opportunity to remain agile, responding to needs and opportunities in creative and appropriate ways.

Over time, the stories that have shaped their lives reinforced the expansiveness of generosity and now they add to that expansiveness, leaving a new story and a new example for the next generation. 

If you are interested in creating a charitable bequest, like Jim and Kathy, or would like to discuss your philanthropy, please feel free to reach out to Justin Gould to discuss how you can make a difference.