Margaret Graff is a Private Wealth Advisor with Ampere Wealth Management, specializing in retirement, wealth management, and philanthropy.

Richard Higgins is a Retired Professor of Electrical Engineering, Georgia Tech.

What do you think is the most important thing United Way of Greater Atlanta does?

We love United Way’s high-level perspective on challenges facing our community.

When did you start giving?

We have always donated to charities, but our ability to give has increased in recent years.  We took our philanthropy to a new level in 2007 when we started a private foundation to really make a difference through specific projects. We closed our foundation in 2021 because we realized that simpler methods of giving were more fulfilling. Now we get to concentrate on the fun stuff – changing lives – instead of the details of running a foundation.

What inspires you about the work of United Way?

United Way supports many organizations that address different aspects of problems to find efficient and effective solutions. Rather than donate to individual organizations with which we are familiar, we can let United Way determine where resources can be used most effectively right now. We like specific projects where we can change lives, and United Way has become a valuable partner in helping us achieve our goals.

What prompted you to create your plans and include United Way?

I don’t remember how we stumbled upon United Way. It didn’t take long before we recognized the tremendous value of United Way’s perspective, and we evolved quickly to Tocqueville and Ivan Allen donors. The more we learn about United Way’s work in Atlanta, the deeper our commitment becomes. It was a natural step to include United Way in our estate plans.

What do you hope your gift will accomplish?

Our main focus with United Way has been reducing Atlanta homelessness, most recently through the Motel-to-Home initiative. Here we are helping households that are in a fragile situation – one nudge could drive them into homelessness or raise them into stable housing.  We love being able to help at this critical time in their lives. By including United Way in our estate planning, we can continue work on homelessness in Atlanta after we’re gone.

What would be your advice to others considering becoming Legacy Leaders?

As a Private Wealth Advisor, I encourage my clients to be deliberate about their estate planning. We brainstorm how much is enough and how much is too much to leave to their heirs. Once you’ve covered  your beneficiaries’ needs, it’s time to think about how to make the world a better place after you’re gone.

Thank you, Margaret and Richard, for being Tocqueville Society members!

To get more involved with the Tocqueville Society, please contact tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.

Oko Buckle is the Vice President and General Manager of Burns & McDonnell in Atlanta. He leads more than 250 professionals, offering a full range of engineering, construction, design-build, program management, consulting, environmental studies and permitting services covering multiple AEC industries.

In 2006, Oko joined Burns & McDonnell as a senior electrical engineer. Later, he became the regional manager for the firm’s Transmission & Distribution Group in Atlanta. In 2015, Oko led the opening of the Orlando, Florida, office before being promoted to general manager of the firm’s Southeast Region. In 2018, he became the vice president and general manager of the Atlanta office.

How did you first learn about the United Way of Greater Atlanta?

I grew up in Ghana, Africa, and I am one of 12 children. My twin and I are the youngest of a large Catholic family. In 1983, a terrible famine swept over Ghana. Catholic Relief Services stepped in to ensure children and families in the area had food and support during this challenging time. Additionally, when I was 17, my family lost our father, and again Catholic Relief Services was there with the resources to help us survive and thrive. The support from this organization changed my life.

I first began contributing to United Way when I joined Burns & McDonnell in 2006 and experienced the benefits of the organization through our annual workplace giving campaign. During my first giving campaign, I learned United Way partnered with Catholic Relief Services. After learning this, I was even more inspired to give and grow my partnership with United Way because it supported an organization that I am extremely passionate about. Now, through United Way, myself, my team in Atlanta and the rest of our organization make significant contributions to help change the communities we live and work in through our annual workplace giving campaign.

In 2021, the Burns & McDonnell Atlanta team raised more than $78,000 for United Way. Nationwide employee-owners from Burns & McDonnell raised more than $4 million for United Way in 2021. Additionally, I am a United Way Tocqueville member and serve on the DeKalb Advisory Board.

What is your favorite part of giving?

Growing up in Ghana, my family home was always open to anyone who needed food to eat or a place to sleep. There wasn’t a time I can remember where strangers weren’t sleeping on the couch in our living room or joining us for dinner. Now, I do my best to pay that forward here in the U.S. My home is always open, and I have a strong desire to help others.

I have and will continue to sponsor and mentor students from Ghana to help them consider coming to the U.S. to pursue higher education at graduate schools such as North Carolina A&T and Georgia State University. In addition to these efforts, I enjoy donating to United Way and believe “through giving to United Way of Greater Atlanta, you are creating citizens that will be the engine to help others.”

Share something, we might not know about you.

I played the trumpet in high school and later discovered the alto saxophone, which I still love to play. I enjoy music, especially jazz, reggae and classical. My passion for music inspired me to work (at no cost) as a DJ in college at the local radio station.

I like to bring out the best in people. Coaching and teaching are very important activities to me—both in my personal and professional life.

Thank you, Oko, for being a Tocqueville Society member!

To get more involved with the Tocqueville Society, please contact tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.

With your IRA, you can help further United Way’s mission of driving sustainable improvements in the well-being of children, families and individuals in our community through maximizing your charitable impact. Avoid taxes for you and your heirs, AND help United Way at the same time, whether or not you itemize! United Way can be named as a partial, primary or contingent beneficiary. In most cases, it is as simple as filling out a short form with your plan administrator to name United Way as a beneficiary.

Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) and Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are the savviest way for individuals age 70½ or older to use their IRAs to maximize their charitable impact.

QCD: Any taxpayer that is 70.5 or older with a traditional IRA can give a tax-free gift called a QCD to the United Way of Greater Atlanta. These gifts can be made whether or not you itemize and reduce your future tax burden. This is a smart giving option to reduce your future RMDs. Donors can transfer up to $100,000 directly from their IRA to United Way on an annual basis. By donating it to United Way, you avoid income taxes on the distribution.

RMD: If you are 72 years or older, you can use the IRA rollover transfer to United Way to meet all or part of your annual RMD.

Talk with your financial advisor or tax professional to determine your best strategies. Contact your United Way representative for a confidential conversation about ways to save on taxes while supporting our community.

Questions? Contact Eve Powell at United Way for a confidential conversation about maximizing your giving at epowell@unitedwayatlanta.org, 404-527-7215.
To learn about other ways to plan your giving, click here.

Jennifer Sparks is the Founder and CEO of Vacmobile Corporation.  She has been successful as a marketing and communications professional with agency, corporate, governmental and non-profit organizations.  Sparks graduated Cum Laude from the University of Chicago with a degree in European History. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Paris, France. She earned her master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Sparks began her professional career working at Young and Rubicam advertising agency in Chicago. Sparks later served as New Mexico Governor Richardson’s Public Information Officer for the 89 school districts managed by the New Mexico Public Education Department. Sparks was the creator and producer of a popular family travel and recreational segment for New Mexico’s NBC affiliate show, “Good Day New Mexico.”  From 2012 to the 2017 Sparks continued her career as a public relations and marketing consultant and legislative advocate doing work for Habitat for Humanity International, the Pew Center for the States, Save the Children and the USDA.  From 2018-2019 Sparks served as Director of Marketing and Communications for a Georgia based healthcare IT company, Clearwave Corporation.

As a parent of three children and stepmother to another son, the paper management of vaccination records had always been a source of aggravation to her. Following the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, Sparks is determined to bring vaccination records into the 21st century.  She formed Vacmobile Corporation, a Delaware Corporation, and filed a patent for her innovative suite of vaccination records solutions. Vacmobile is a mobile app that obtains digital vaccination records from state registries and enables individuals to digitally transmit those records or have a QR code generated from the app for on-demand proof of vaccinations or covid-19 test results.

Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta?

There’s great power in people uniting together as a community to help children and families cope with the challenges of poverty including homelessness and food insecurity. I got involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta because I felt our charitable dollars would have the greatest impact by giving to the United Way of Greater Atlanta. I was very moved by United Way’s Child Well-Being Campaign.

Who or what inspires you to give back to the community?

At a certain point in my life, I was a single mother raising three children on my own. Now that I am in a different place, I am thankful that I have the ability to give back.

Why did you decide to become a Tocqueville Society member?

People can’t reach their full potential unless they have their basic needs met. I decided to join the Tocqueville Society because I wanted to be part of a group dedicated to creating long lasting meaningful changes in the communities being served.

What is something unique about you that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I have a black belt in Tae Kwondo, and I speak four languages: English, French, Italian and Spanish.

What are the top priorities of your business/industry at the moment?

At Vacmobile, our top priority is helping people navigate the pandemic. We are bringing vaccination records into the 21st century. We are deploying our Vacmobile app solution to help schools, universities, and all types of businesses large and small create “safe bubbles” for their employees and their customers. The Vacmobile health pass allows individuals to get back to face-to-face interactions.

What advice do you have to navigate the COVID-19 crisis (from a personal and/or corporate perspective)?

The truth is, there are ways we can protect ourselves and our families. The good news is that companies like Vacmobile and others are developing new, innovative strategies to fight the virus. We have seen unparalleled challenges during this pandemic, but we have also seen astonishing scientific breakthroughs. So, my advice to navigate the Covid-19 crisis is the same advice I have repeated to myself throughout my adult life in both my personal and professional life—stay focused– let data not emotion drive decisions. I was a history major in college, so I tend to look for historical clues. The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic lasted from 1918 to 1920. As time went by, people let their guard down and that pandemic fatigue paved the way for 2nd and 3rd waves of infections. Let’s not make the same mistakes. Let’s stay vigilant. In 2021, let’s leverage all the tools and knowledge at our disposal to bring our communities back together again safely.

Thank you, Jennifer, for being a Tocqueville Society member and a key leader in the healthcare community!

To get more involved with the Tocqueville Society, please contact tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.

Lou is the Vice President and General Manager, McDonald’s North America, The Coca-Cola Company. Lou is currently the general manager for the Coca-Cola McDonald’s North America business. The team she leads is responsible for strategy and sales, marketing, finance, supply chain and operations. Prior to that she was responsible for the Coca-Cola North America Natural Channel strategy. Lou began her career at The Coca-Cola Company in Finance, providing North America P&L forecasting, management and oversight. Before joining The Coca-Cola Company, Lou was at Federal Express Corporation.

Lou served on the board of the United Way of Greater Atlanta on the Executive Committee as well as the Marketing Committee Chair and continues on the Marketing Committee, post-tenure limits. She served on the board of Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta for seven years including two years as the Board Chair. She received an MBA from the University of Georgia and a BA in Anthropology from Duke University. We connected with Lou to find out why she supports the community.

Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta?

I had been a long-time supporter of United Way through workplace campaigns at both Federal Express and Coca-Cola. When the opportunity came to join the board after chairing the board of a partner agency I jumped at the chance because I knew so well the impact that United Way had in the community and directly on child well-being.

How have you used your investment of time and treasure to support United Way of Greater Atlanta?

From a time standpoint serving on the board and chairing the marketing committee have been extremely rewarding. I’ve enjoyed connecting United Way of Greater Atlanta to my network of marketing capability and expertise. But truly that has given me more back in terms of satisfaction and learning than I have given. I’ve been proud to support financially through workplace giving, special event support and most recently through giving to the COVID 19 Relief Fund and the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund as well as fundraising on my social media channels. I know the money has been well spent.

What has been your best experience serving as Board of Directors member?

Seeing the organization come together to focus on the critical mission of improving Child Well-Being in Atlanta while at the same time adapting and growing in a time of tremendous change. I’m also very gratified to still work with the marketing committee and to see that committee provide terrific support to the mission.

Why did you decide to become a Tocqueville Society member?

I value the clarity I have with United Way of Greater Atlanta that my giving can make a true difference in my Greater Atlanta community. Because my dollars are united with other dollars and United Way’s efforts are united with other community organizations efforts… for more. Because everything I have been given allows me to give back.

What is something unique about you that most people would not know?

My husband and I have been on a BBQ team that competes in the World Championship BBQ cooking contest. Spanish was my first language because I am the child of Cuban immigrants.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

I look forward to a little something in every day, the opportunity of Monday, the celebration of Friday, the reflection of Sunday and all the days in between. 2020 taught me that. I look forward to more variety of ways to find joy in 2021, but ultimately I choose joy every day.

To get more involved with the Tocqueville Society, please connect with tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.

Youlanda Mack

IT Technical Lead for Oracle ERP and Cloud Applications, Cox Enterprises, Inc.

Youlanda Mack is a Tocqueville Society member and an African American Partnership (AAP) member with the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Her day to day includes managing data and infrastructures that run applications for all Cox companies (CEI Enterprises, Cox Communication & Cox Automotive). As an IT technical lead for ERP and Oracle Applications, she is responsible for the operational support of the PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) and Autonomous Oracle Integration Cloud Applications. Although Youlanda is quite busy with her professional IT career, she recognizes the importance of serving as a mentor and makes time for the Atlanta community.

Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta?

I believe I can help inspire and give of myself for the betterment of people who look like me. Giving back is part of my values, beliefs and it is truly a gratifying experience. The ability to make a difference in someone else’s life inspires me. Seeing disenfranchisement firsthand as a child and in my local community motivates me to contribute to equalizing opportunities for others in need. This can be something as simple as guiding a kid to go to college or guiding a kid to consider a STEM career. I like that the United Way of Greater Atlanta has a large pool of partnerships and relationships to help multiple families that experience personal hardships in life.

Who or what inspires you to give back to the community?

Philanthropy is part of my core to make a difference in the lives of others. I am inspired to give back because I know firsthand the difference philanthropy has made in my life when others gave me an open hand of help. I am a product of the communities that I now give back to and serve through volunteerism, mentorship, and financial assistance. More importantly, I give back because I see a reflection of myself in many of the children, people, and families in the impoverished communities that we service and donate to through the United Way. I have a personal commitment to myself to always give back. It is also an honor and privilege to share my successes and my story to help others know that you can rise above any situation or condition and become who you aspire to be regardless of your circumstances.

Why did you decide to become a Tocqueville Society member?

Becoming a Tocqueville Society member happened by default. As I earn and obtain more financial success, I give more to causes that I believe in like the United Way which supports multiple causes. I truly believe “To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48)”. I love the mission of Tocqueville Society to lead by example by giving of our time, mentorship, and financial resources. The act of Tocqueville Society members giving at a higher level shows true commitment to uplift local communities, improve their quality of life, and provide opportunities for the betterment of those communities. As we uplift others, we uplift ourselves. I am truly grateful and honored to be a part of a network of philanthropic leaders who encourage and make a difference by providing resources and funding for long-term progressive change.

What is something unique about you that most people would not know?

I used to work two jobs to help pay for my tuition while completing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston. One of my jobs was working as a courier for FedEx. The other job was working as a programmer for an internship at the Houston Chronicle newspaper. I was determined to minimize my college debt while attending college and driven to achieve my goal to complete my degree. Sometimes you must do things and treat experiences as steppingstones to get where you need to be. Always remember your circumstances do not define who you are and who you can become. People would also be surprised to know that I used to be a Flight Attendant for American Airlines.

What are the top priorities of your business/industry now?

I would say two key top business industry priorities are customer experience and cybersecurity. We do what we can to improve the delivery of the product or service to the customer in this digital age by responding faster with high quality and agility. I believe it is key to understand your customer by engaging them with conversations and make proper adjustments based on customer feedback. Cybersecurity works in parallel with customer experience by protecting sensitive data, information, company networks, and systems of employees, customers, and vendors from fraudulent activity.

What advice do you have to navigate the COVID-19 crisis (from a personal and/or corporate perspective)?

From a corporate perspective, I take full advantage of the tools provided by my company, Cox Enterprises, Inc. All employees received a free subscription to Headspace. Headspace is an online subscription that offers meditation videos and techniques to combat stress and fatigue which is elevated as a result of the Covi-19 crises. Headspace guides you through meditation and relaxation through breathing exercises. From a personal perspective, I follow the recommendations of scientists and wear a mask in public places and maintain social distancing. Also, I use the delivered breathing app on my apple watch. It works great with an animation of how you should breathe with small and big breaths. You will be surprised how much just intentionally breathing throughout the day will relax you and reduce stress with the apple watch breathing app. Lastly, I must tell you that I have a morning song that I listen to that I play via Alexa, Lovely Day by Bill Withers – it motivates me to have a great day.

Thank you, Youlanda, for your leadership with AAP and the Tocqueville Society. We appreciate the direction and intricate work you do daily to keep IT infrastructures safely operating during the pandemic and beyond.

To get more involved with AAP or with the Tocqueville Society, please connect with tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.

As we embark upon a new year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some of our experiences over the past year. Needless to say, 2020 has been a year like no other. Between a global pandemic, an economic slowdown, social unrest, and a contentious election cycle, we are indeed living in extraordinary times. It’s hard to think back to a time when we have had so many people collectively struggling and exhausted—physically, financially, and emotionally. And it is in the midst of these circumstances that United Way of Greater Atlanta has continued to step up and deliver for people in need.

The events that occurred in 2020 taught us all about the importance of supporting the community while underscoring the need to pivot and transition. The coronavirus pandemic ushered in a “perfect storm” of health care and economic crises that have not been seen in our lifetime. The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund (COVID-19 Fund) was created to get emergency funding to nonprofits working on the frontlines to support our region’s most vulnerable workers and families. As the situation in our community evolved, the Fund pivoted to address rapidly changing needs and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) population.

We then created The United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund that supports our work to improve areas of low and very-low Child Well-Being. Ending disparities has been the guidepost for our Child Well-Being agenda, which has focused on addressing the systemic issues that put Atlanta at the bottom of the list of U.S. cities in terms of opportunity and mobility for low-income children and make a child’s zip code of birth their destiny.

As the impact of these challenges continues to be felt, your support has never been more critical. Now more than ever I thank you for your support as a Tocqueville Society member. We have been, and will continue to be, all in this together. You help underwrite our Child Well-Being Movement and our work would not be possible without you.

I ask you to read our 2020 Timeline and the Tocqueville Society 2020 Recap below to remember all we have accomplished together. Thank you all for showing up (virtually!) to support the Atlanta community.

United is the way forward. I am proud to serve as your chair and I look forward to what we can accomplish in 2021.

Chris Peck

Tocqueville Society Chair

Vice President, UPS (ret.)


February 2020 African America Partnership Leadership Luncheon

Kofi and Chris talk

11x NBA All-Star and 2x NBA Champion Chris Bosh alongside actor and budding filmmaker Kofi Siriboe, joined African-American Partnership (AAP) for its fifth-annual Leadership Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Atlanta in February 2020. View photos from the event here!


Cole Women United A Toast to Her

Our inaugural A Toast to Her recognized everyday “sheroes” in our communities in celebration of Women’s History Month. Meet the sheroes honored at the event in March!


Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund 

Michael Klump, founder and chairman of the Argonne Capital Group, formed his family foundation over a decade ago. In a normal year, the Klump Family Foundation supports education, health and U.S. Military related causes. While 2020 was far from normal, this community leader stepped up in an incredible way. Read about how Michael responded to the COVID-19 crisis.


United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Virtual Town Hall Series

Subject matter expects from around Atlanta inspired, educated and uplifted viewers during a series of virtual town halls throughout 2020.

May – Protecting Ourselves and Our Community During COVID-19

June – Will Summer Offer Relief for Students and Families?

August – Talking Recovery: Looking Through the Economic Lens at COVID-19 Response and Recovery in the Atlanta Region


June Tocqueville Society Coffee & Conversation

On Thursday, June 18th, United Way of Greater Atlanta was pleased to host its first virtual Tocqueville Society event. A frank, honest conversation was led by Chris Peck, Tocqueville Society Chair, as our panelists discussed issues of race, social injustice, business leadership and community response. Special thanks to our speakers, Kevin Kelly, Milton J. Little, Jr. and Meghan Magruder, for their guidance now and always. Watch the conversation!


Virtual Engagement Roundtable

What are the benefits to being a part of the Tocqueville Society, African American Partnership, Women United, Cole United and our Young Professional Leaders?  Listen to our key volunteers tell you in their own words! 


Building Back Better

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s President and CEO, Milton J. Little, Jr. sat down with Federal Reserve Bank President Dr. Raphael Bostic, to talk about the intersection of economic priorities and philanthropy. Dr. Bostic shared that “diverse participation, complete participation, gets us to a larger, more innovative, more dynamic and more resilient economy for the region, and that’s in all of our interests.” To build back better, we need to galvanize systemic change. Watch their full conversation and share with your networks.


September Tocqueville Society Coffee & Conversation

What should ethical response and recovery look like in the wake of the ongoing pandemic? How do we ensure that the needs of historically marginalized communities are not only heard, but addressed in ways that stoke systemic change? How do we ensure that more leaders of color are seated at the table and positioned to guide community improvement efforts of the future? Tocqueville Society members Aiko Bethea, Shan Cooper, Milton J. Little, Jr., Glenn Mitchell and Chris Peck discussed these important questions during the recent Coffee & Conversation.

“We’ve got the same world to live in. We’ve got to shape our collective future.” Click here to read a recap and watch the conversation!


Women’s Leadership Breakfast

There were many words of wisdom shared at the 13th Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast by keynote speaker Robin Roberts and moderator Monica Kaufman Pearson! We were also thrilled to honor Tocqueville Society member Meghan Magruder with the Women of Purpose award. Watch Meghan share her reasons for being involved with the community. The only way forward is united. Let’s keep pushing forward - learn more about Women United!


2020 Tocqueville Society Membership Spotlights

Have we met? Click on the photos below to virtually meet a few or out outstanding members!

         

        

          

Why did you decide to get involved with VIP and United Way of Greater Atlanta?

I was looking for ways to enhance my leadership skills and ability, when VIP popped onto my radar. I had been involved with United Way since I joined UPS in 2010 and I saw the Volunteer Involvement Program was a way to flex the ways in which I’m able to give back to the community.

How have you used your VIP training in the community?

VIP inspired me to seek a board position based on qualities that are important to me. Board participation is more about quality over quantity. It also served as a reminder to never forget the mission of a non-profit, which is to seek ways to serve and assist those in need.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining a nonprofit board?

Participate in VIP! It is a game-changing program with great insights and wonderful presenters and participants!

 

You can give back to United Way and take tax-smart actions. Here are 6 to consider for your personal financial situation.
1. Deduct $300 without itemizing

This year only! You can deduct $300 of charitable gifts without itemizing. The $300 limit is one per tax filing unit. (So, married couples filing jointly don’t get $600.) This must be a cash gift paid to an operating nonprofit and not to a donor advised fund.

2. Deduct up to 100% of your income

This year only! You can deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income using charitable gifts of cash. These gifts must go to an operating nonprofit and not to a donor advised fund.

3. Make IRA gifts @ age 70½ + 

IRA accounts have no required minimum distribution (RMD) in 2020. But those age 70½ or older can still make gifts directly from an IRA to a nonprofit up to $100,000. This gift donates pre-tax dollars. The earned income is never taxed because it goes directly to the nonprofit.

4.  IRA gifts @ age 5½  – 70½ 

IRA withdrawals during this age create no penalties. But they are taxable. However, this year cash gifts can be deducted up to 100% of income. If you are already itemizing deductions this can help offset the tax impact from an IRA withdrawal.

5. IRA beneficiary v. gift in a will

Many people like to include a charitable gift in their will to support a cause that has been important in their lives. One tax smart strategy is to leave part of an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) account to a nonprofit. It’s easy to change account beneficiaries by contacting the financial institution.

Why is this smart? Because heirs pay income taxes on this money. Starting this year, heirs (except spouses) must take out all funds (and pay taxes) within 10 years of inheriting. But any part left to a nonprofit avoids these taxes. So, if you plan to include a nonprofit in your will, use these accounts first.

6. Bunch gifts with a donor advised fund 

Many people like to include a charitable gift in their will to support a cause that has been important in their lives. One tax smart strategy is to leave part of an IRA, 401(k), or 403(b) account to a nonprofit. It’s easy to change account beneficiaries by contacting the financial institution.

The 2018 tax law created much higher standard deductions. Fewer people can use charitable deductions because they aren’t itemizing. One way around that is to “bunch” charitable gifts.

Example: A donor puts 5 years’ worth of donations into a donor advised fund. The donor takes a tax deduction for the entire amount in that year. Because the deduction is so large, the donor itemizes in that year. In later years, the donor makes gifts to charities from the fund. This creates no tax deduction. But in those years the donor takes the standard deduction instead of itemizing.

Remember: We recommend that you consult your accountant and/or financial advisor before taking any action on the methods listed here. Your individual financial situation will determine the best course of action for you.

To learn more about how your gifts can make a lasting impact at United Way of Greater Atlanta, contact: Eve Powell at epowell@unitedwaygreateratlanta.org.

Malika Terry is a United Way of Greater Atlanta Tocqueville Society member and the Vice President of Rewards for UPS. She leads a team of experienced professionals in crafting and implementing the organization’s Total Rewards strategy for its 495,000 employees worldwide. This includes base pay, variable pay, equity, benefits, work/life effectiveness, global mobility, recognition and retirement.

For over 20 years, Malika has held leadership positions with responsibility for compensation, benefits and retirement plans, including executive compensation and executive benefit programs. She has worked for mid- to large-sized companies in logistics, hospitality, manufacturing, media, service, retail and banking. Her achievements include leading acquisition and divestiture activities, introducing parental leave programs, developing and implementing sales incentive plans and establishing salary structures for international locations.

Throughout her career, Malika has been driven by her passion to help companies foster healthy connections with their employees. Since 2011, she has shared her enthusiasm and expertise with other rewards professionals as a speaker and faculty member for WorldatWork.

She has volunteered with the Make A Difference Foundation since 2009 and currently serves as director of programs and planning. We sat down with Malika to learn more about why gives back to the Atlanta community and how she is navigating the pandemic with her family and colleagues.

Why did you decide to get involved with United Way of Greater Atlanta?

I decided to get involved with the United Way of Greater Atlanta, after relocating to Atlanta from Cincinnati, OH where I was involved with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Who or what inspires you to give back to the community?

I am inspired to give back to the community because, giving is a part of my DNA. I have a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University; and I am passionate about helping people and contributing to the business community. I have an opportunity to utilize my MBA in my day to day work activities, and although I do not work in the field of Social Work, I have a strong desire to give back to the community and volunteering gives me a sense of purpose beyond my day to day responsibilities. I am also inspired to give back to my community in order to set a good example for our two daughters, Gabrielle (7) and Danielle (6); they both are kindhearted and we want to continue to cultivate their compassion for others and their willingness to spend their time and energy helping to make the lives of others better.

What advice do you have to navigate the COVID-19 crisis (from a personal and/or corporate perspective)?

My advice is to find the best way for you to reduce stress as we all adjust to our “new ways of working” and interacting with family, friends, and co-workers. Leverage the programs that are offered by your company, especially if your company offers an Employee Assistance Program. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Employee Assistance Programs and mental well-being benefits. If your company does not offer an Employee Assistance Program, seek guidance from your medical provider, community resources, and/or mindfulness applications or websites.

When asked about the benefits of becoming a Tocqueville Society member by way of the Global Payments Match, Malika shared that she decided to become a member of the Tocqueville Society after being introduced to the program as part of her UPS campaign. She said that she is “excited to be a part of this program” and joined because the match “enables participants to increase their contribution over a four-year period.” For those Cole, Young Professional Leaders (YPL) and other community members who are thinking about leveraging the Global Payments Match to become a Tocqueville Society member, Malika encourages individuals to get involved! She said the match is a great way for companies to “get more employees introduced to the various leadership levels within United Way of Greater Atlanta.”

Thank you, Malika for all the great work you do to engage 495,000 UPS employees! We are grateful for your involvement in the United Way of Greater Atlanta Tocqueville Society and in the Atlanta Community!

For those interested in learning more about Tocqueville Society and how to leverage the Global Payments match, please click here, or email Tocqueville@unitedwayatlanta.org.