Making a Big Impact on a Budget

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Today’s financial climate and impending tuition costs can deter many young families from considering giving to their favorite organizations. However, Luther ’88 and Libby Hagen of Apple Valley, Minn., have discovered a few simple ways to make a substantial impact on Gustavus students, with a very modest impact to their budget.

Luther, owner and president of Hagen Financial Advantage, has first-hand experience helping families just like his plan for the future. He and Libby have two daughters, Hope, 16, and Grace, 14, who are inching closer to their college years. He’s the first to admit that the thought of tuition is daunting, but it didn’t prevent him from deciding to document a substantial planned gift to his alma mater.

After examining their options, the Hagens decided to leave their legacy at Gustavus through a combination of retirement funds and life insurance that will translate to endowed student scholarships.

It was as easy as changing the beneficiary information on a few forms,” Luther says. “It’s always wise to contact professional advisers to discuss the possible tax and financial benefits of your gift. This ensures that your philanthropy meets your family’s goals.”

Luther also notes that this gift will teach their children the importance of giving. “Libby and I want to make sure that if something happens to us, our daughters will have enough so that they can do anything, but not so much that they’ll do nothing.”

Even though the gift will not come to fruition for several years, it will greatly impact the lives and education of many future Gustavus students. It will also help build the College’s endowment, which Luther believes is a worthy investment and will make Gustavus more competitive with other liberal arts institutions nationwide. “If we want colleges like Gustavus to continue, we need to support them,” Luther says.

The Hagens also give regularly to the Gustavus Annual Fund, which supports the current financial aid and operational needs of the College. Gifts to the Gustavus Annual Fund can be given in all sizes according to family budgets. The important thing is to try to make consistent gifts throughout the year.

Another way to make a big impact on the College is by serving as a mentor. Luther strongly believes that reaching out to students is key to building a greater Gustavus. He has started to work with the Gustavus Alumni Mentoring Program and has hired Gustavus interns.

If you can’t make a gift of money, make a gift of your time,” Luther says. “One of Gustavus’s biggest assets is its alumni. With an estimated 80 percent of today’s jobs coming through networking, it’s never been more important to be connected.”

Luther is president of his alumni class and an active member of the Alumni Board. His volunteer work illustrates that he is a person who leads by example. He challenges fellow alumni to facilitate an internship or become a mentor through the Gustavus Alumni Mentoring Program.

Through research and careful planning, the Hagens have found ways to turn their philanthropic ideas into an action plan that works for their young family. Their substantial commitments prove that it’s possible to make a big impact on the life of the College and stay within their budget.