Wisdom Wednesdays: Mentoring Can Make the Difference

by Pat Bilow

In my first blog post, I wrote about two of my three biggest learning curves — writing a book that was published and starting a United Way.  Two bigger-than-life experiences for me!

And the third?  It’s all about being mentored!  How many of us are where we are thanks to people who believed in us no matter how short on knowledge we may have been?  By the time I left United Way to work for Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio, I knew that planned giving was where I wanted to be.  But how?  I had no experience and little knowledge.  Enter my number one mentor — Josef Kuckelkorn.  A retired Navy pilot who was born in Germany and survived World War II, Josef was definitely different from anyone I’d ever met.  My first impression?  “I could never work with that man.”  (God had another plan.  We are now married.)

Josef Kuckelkorn

Once I got past the German accent and his direct nature, I saw how passionate he was about planned giving.  Josef was always there to conduct seminars and workshops for me on a volunteer basis.  It didn’t take long before he gave up his insurance credentials to work part-time for LSS.  He and I became a successful planned giving team, but I didn’t do much except open the door.  He did all the technical work.

Enter Harvey Stegemoeller, my second mentor, who was then CEO of the ELCA Foundation and one of the earliest members of ALDE.  Josef and I had worked with Harvey through our donors with LSS.  During a phone conversation one day, Harvey suggested that I apply for a new position — Director for Planned Giving with Women of the ELCA.  Encouraged by Josef but believing I didn’t stand a chance, I applied and, lo and behold, got the job.  Holy cow!  Now I had to do the technical parts!  But within six weeks I

Harvey Stegemoeller

completed my first gift annuity agreement at $25,000.  That was a very much appreciated answer to prayer!

Through Harvey, of course, I was introduced to ALDE, and ALDE is where I grew leaps and bounds in gaining knowledge about planned and major giving.  This upcoming 2012 International Educational Conference will be my 23rd or maybe 24th.  I’ve lost count.  The conference always offers golden nuggets.  Just pick out one or two and grab a mentor or maybe mentor someone else.  This is a great group to be with!  You won’t want to miss the next conference in Minneapolis, February 6-9!  If you are interested in having a mentor, or being mentored, please contact Pat at pata@alde.org.

Now, who will be next to blog their professional insights?  Lots of creative ALDE people out there!  Let’s hear from you!  Contact Jon if you’re interested.

Pat Bilow is ALDE President and Senior Gift Planning Counselor, LWML, with the LCMS Foundation. She lives in Napoleon, Ohio. Thanks to Pat for her willingness to do the first couple posts as we work to gain traction with this new venture.


4 thoughts on “Wisdom Wednesdays: Mentoring Can Make the Difference

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Through out my career, and spiritual walk, mentors have supported me and challenged me to grow. As I started a new position at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church and School, Robin Paris, ALDE Member, has been a mentor to me and I am grateful for her investment in my career and me personally.

  2. As an experienced businesswoman who began a fundraising career five years ago in November, it was a pleasure to learn of the many individuals within ALDE who are not only professionally proficient, but also willing to generously share their expertise with others. Pat Bilow has been an invaluable resource for me as well as Ward Pallotta and Heather McGinness. Thanks to these people and the great training available through ALDE, I just passed my CFRE exam!!

  3. The generous spirit of development professionals with one another gives me great joy in our calling. ALDE provides so many opportunities for experiencing that spirit. Thanks, Pat, for sharing your journey.

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