The Ballards Say: Just about Anyone Can Set Up a Scholarship Fund!

This article was written by alumna Leslie Ballard who, with her husband and fellow alumnus Patrick, established a scholarship in their name in 2003. This scholarship provides financial support for ballards2outstanding English education majors at Ball State.

The Ballards met on campus. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1975. He graduated in 1976. They now reside in Terre Haute, Indiana, and remain strong supporters of their alma mater. In addition to their scholarship, they generously donated their time-share in St. Martin to the Cardinal Varsity Club's annual auction. We thank the Ballards for their generous contributions and thoughtful words of inspiration.

Looking back on our undergrad years at Ball State, we both remember walking around campus, looking at some of the named buildings, and wondering who these people were—Bracken, Howick, Carmichael, Kitselman. We automatically assumed these were people of enormous wealth. After all, who else could possibly donate enough money to erect a building or endow a scholarship?

I taught English for over 25 years before joining the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. After getting his degree in political science, my husband, Patrick, opted for a career in business, going to work in 1981 for Pfizer, where he works as procurement team leader for the Terre Haute facility.

Over the years, we have donated to numerous causes and organizations, taking advantage of Pfizer's matching program to increase the value of these gifts. We hoped we were helping but didn't really feel as if we were able to make a significant enough contribution. We had already left money in our wills to fund a scholarship, but that seemed distant at this point. Then we read a brochure the Ball State Foundation sent us about endowing scholarships and discovered that the donation did not need to be made all at once but could be distributed over several years.

The idea of enabling a young man or woman to pursue their education more easily or at all was very attractive to us. We remembered working every vacation to earn tuition and room and board money and the burden of paying off school loans. Maybe we could make financing college a little easier for others.

At about that time, we received Patrick's stock option statement. Pfizer has a stock option program, which we had exercised from the beginning of his employment. We discovered that donating stock toward an endowment fund was a win-win situation.

The stock had been purchased for a 10th of its current value, yet the gift value (and income tax charitable deduction) is based on the market value at the time of the donation. In addition, such a gift completely avoids the capital gains tax that we would have owed if we sold the stock instead of donating it. The best part was that Pfizer will match up to $15,000 a year, doubling our gift! Thus, we were able to join our desire to do something for the university with Pfizer's philanthropic initiatives.

Another perk is that family members looking for charitable deductions can contribute to an established scholarship. We have also encouraged our family to make a donation in lieu of gifts to us.

We haven't said much about the scholarship to anyone. Trying to express what this means to us is difficult as it sounds incredibly corny. But the good feeling it has given us both—the satisfaction and the sense of pride in the accomplishment combined with helping others go on in their lives to make a difference—is beyond words.

So, who can possibly donate enough money to endow a scholarship? Just about anyone!
Learn more about outright giving.