Published March 13, 2008
Helping others with money has always been something close to the heart of Diane Duquette, the new director of gift planning for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Her professional journey, which began in the private sector as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch, has now led her into a position combining that desire to help others with the needs of various archdiocesan and parish ministries and services.
As part of the team at the archdiocesan Office of Development and Stewardship, Duquette will spread awareness of a new planned giving program recently started by the Archdiocese of Atlanta. She intends to help Catholics become more educated about charitable giving and to accomplish what they want to create as a legacy.
Gift planning offers Catholics of North Georgia unique opportunities to give back to their communities. Many are not aware of the possibilities of charitable giving or how many ways there are to participate, and the new director hopes this innovative program will help spread the word.
The mother of three and a native of Birmingham, Ala., Duquette has a strong track record of serving with nonprofit organizations and in planned giving. After she graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, she volunteered for several nonprofits, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and charities supporting multiple sclerosis research and mental health.
Through these experiences, Duquette was drawn to become more involved and not just as a volunteer. This affinity landed her a position as director of planned giving at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama.
“I just fell in love with working with older people in really looking at their whole estate plans,” she said.
After more than two years at Birmingham Southern, she was brought on as director of development of the newly opened Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, where she has worked for the last two years. And the new position she has recently accepted with the Archdiocese of Atlanta brings her back to the one-on-one work with donors she most enjoys.
“I love people and I love their stories,” she said, positioned at her desk in front of a colorful floral painting, which she painted herself. “I guess that’s why I like older people. … They have wonderful stories to tell about their lives.”
Duquette describes her position as being that of a matchmaker who brings together people’s interests and values with the needs of the archdiocese and also its parishes and schools. She recalled a married couple she recently spoke with who were interested in leaving a gift to the church. After discussing with Duquette what was most important to them, they decided that the shortage of priests was the overriding reason why they would leave a gift to the Office of Vocations and its ministry.
One of the considerations that aided the couple in their final decision came by answering the question: does the vocations program even need money?
According to Lorraine Clarke, executive director of development and stewardship for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, vocations, along with many other archdiocesan ministries and services, certainly could use some assistance.
“We don’t receive enough money from the Annual Appeal to actually cover the cost of the ministries and services of the archdiocese,” said Clarke. “We need other sources of revenue. … We would like to be in a position to enable people and encourage people to think about leaving a legacy of their values in the form of a planned gift to the church.”
Duquette believes that many in the archdiocese are not aware of the variety of opportunities they have for charitable gift giving. The ways to give are as varied as the members of the church, and her role is designed to let others know how they can help.
“My goal is to get out and educate individuals about how they can make a charitable gift during their lifetime or at their death and still have their family taken care of and their needs met,” she said. “So many people don’t realize that they can make charitable gifts during their lifetime and get income for the rest of their lives from those charitable gifts.”
The gift planning Web site explains many ways to give. From leaving money in their will to giving with assets, insurance or personal property, Duquette believes there is a way for anyone to give.
She has also prepared planned giving seminars, which she will share with parishes and Catholic schools. Her hope is to present these seminars, covering a variety of topics from estate planning to wills, in terms of spiritual values. Duquette believes that, by leaving a gift to the archdiocese, people can leave a legacy that represents their faith and values.
“What I really love is working with the individual to help them make their dreams come true,” Duquette said. “Anyone can make a difference.”
A variety of financial planning tools are available on the archdiocesan Web site, including interactive screens on planning a will, estate planning, a personal calculator and information on planned gifts. For more information visit www.archatl.com/giving/gp. To contact Diane Duquette, call (404) 978-0795 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.