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Lessons from a $12 Million Gift…as presented by Anne Paul King, ED at Ventura College Foundation


Written by Kathy Wertheim, CFRE 

Anne said that once the contents of the will hit the newspapers, Ventura College was the subject of numerous computer hack attacks! I’d never thought of that before, that “bad actors,” as Anne says, would use cyber attacks to try and get the bequest. Anne was told by college security not to use her cell phone and to only use the secured business line at work to discuss the gift, that there would be scanners looking for words like “million dollars.” Her work email was attacked, and three donors and vendors received bills from what looked like her email, with specific, exact amounts that were due. The college IT security team told her that they could tell they were under measurably more attacks because of the publicity around the gift. (This publicity would be avoided with a trust instead of a will, as information from a will is open to the public during probate but a trust isn’t.)

For listing gifts in the IRS 990, Anne said that it’s important to file a significant gift under Part II, Line 1 of the Federal Worksheet as “Unusual Gifts.” Otherwise, in Section A of the 990, no one gift can exceed 2% of income or an organization would be recategorized as a family foundation.

Kathy Wertheim, CFRE, is a consultant in fundraising and board development. She is a master trainer with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, one of 11 in California and 232 worldwide. She has taught fundraising and board development in 22 states, Asia and Latin America. Locally, she has consulted for the Alzheimer’s Association, Devereux, the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, Make-A-Wish Tri Counties, The Salvation Army Southern California Division, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, among others. She is the current Vice President for Communications for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties chapter (to sign up for the bi-weekly newsletter, go to You can contact her at