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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Nice to Meet You: Char DeWitt

Meet Char DeWitt, a member of our Fund Development team. Her important work as a Senior Gift Planning Officer allows her to learn about the connections people have with the Red Cross and how they wish to continue supporting our work after their death. She regularly sees the impact our lines of service have on individuals and families.


Q: Could you explain what your title means and take us through your work day, or what projects you work on?

 A: As Senior Gift Planning Officer, I am part of the National Headquarters' Gift Planning Unit Team. We are all assigned to work with chapters and the Region Philanthropy Officers to identify donors who may be thinking about making a gift through their will, trust or beneficiary designation. Identifying those types of gifts is part of our goals. Each day I talk to donors about considering making the Red Cross part of their estate plan.


Char DeWitt at our Region Border-to-Border Leadership Summit.

Q: How long have you been with the Red Cross? Is this your first position with the Red Cross? If not, what was it?

A: I have been with the Red Cross for almost 12 years, but I have worked in estate planning and estate gifts for just over 30 years. I began with my financial planning practice. I sold it after about 13 years and went to work solely with charitable estate gifts with the Episcopal Church Foundation (covering about eight states) and then with the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas as their Director of Development and Stewardship. In 2012, I was fortunate to be selected as successor to Jim Brown when he retired as a GPO from the Red Cross. Some of you may know Jim and remember his remarkable contribution to disaster fundraising. 


Q: What do you like about your work?

A: I love helping someone talk through the gifts they wish to give at their death. This is often a conversation that takes place over weeks, months and even years. I give that person time and information to think about and understand the impact of the gift. They are then able to discuss the options with their financial advisors and attorney. I enjoy the patience it takes to steward that gift over many years. Our team and I are ready to help with any type of gift (home, business, farm, etc.). We love learning new strategies and ways to help our region’s fundraisers. I use my financial planning background all the time, and I’m so grateful that it led me here.


Q: What do you like to listen to during the workday?

A: I love all kinds of music! During the workday, I play mostly classical music compilations. Sometimes I can even get music with a crackling fireplace going, or birds that my cat can watch!


In what part of the region are you located, and what do you enjoy about your community?

A: I live in Omaha, and I cover the Nebraska-Iowa Region, along with Kansas, the Kansas City, Missouri chapter and the Northwest Arkansas chapter. I love living in Omaha, but I love all of Nebraska. I’ve lived in every part of the state—Alliance, Norfolk, Hastings and now Omaha.


Q: How do you spend your time when you aren't working?

A: I keep busy with my grandson’s soccer and church activities,

 

Q: What has most surprised you while working for the Red Cross?

A: The Red Cross mission never stops amazing me.


How disaster volunteers spend countless hours and days doing heart-wrenching work and then are willing to pack up and leave for the next round. How people count on blood being available at the hospital, and how hard blood services work to encourage blood donations, and then get the blood delivered.  How I hear stories of people who left us money in their estate because it was the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces that brought them, or a family member, home from overseas when a loved one died or was sick. 


We all have incredible stories where each line of service has made an important and lasting impact, and I still feel incredulous at our ability to respond.


Q: What is a Red Cross moment that has stuck with you?

A: There are many. But one that sticks with me is a couple, now deceased, who made the Red Cross part of their will. They did this because they had to be evacuated to a Red Cross shelter during a bad winter ice storm in their town. They were there for about four days and were amazed at the work we do, and how well cared for they were. They were a delightful couple to work with over the years. What we do inspires others. Making the Red Cross part of an estate plan is often the outcome when those we serve see us at work.


If you are interested in learning more about giving by will or other planned gifts, click here.

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