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Pierpont Family Recognized by AFP Foundation

October 27, 2003

CHICAGO (AFP eWire - Oct. 27, 2003) - Longtime AFP member Bob Pierpont, CFRE, and his wife Marion were honored at the AFP Delegate Assembly in Chicago over the weekend as the first donors to give a planned gift to the AFP Foundation.

In recognition of their generous gift, AFP has renamed the book collection in the AFP Affiliate Library program as the Pierpont-Welde Affiliate Library Collection on Fundraising and Philanthropy. The name also recognizes the philanthropic spirit and generosity of their parents, Robert E. and Elise D. Pierpont and John C. and Florence B. Welde.

'It was a unique idea to suggest that this ongoing program could bear our names, my wife's name and our parents' [names],' Bob Pierpont said. 'I thought it was an ingenious idea and well thought out.'

AFP's Affiliate Library program is a collection of 32 books in 62 public libraries, university libraries and nonprofit resource centers throughout North America. The books provide fundraisers, as well as the general public, with information on fundraising and philanthropy. AFP encourages chapters to purchase the library collections and donate them to their local libraries or other sites accessible to the public.

The Pierponts pledged a $25,000 contribution in 1986 in the form of a bequest, making them the founding members of the AFP Omega Circle, created for donors who have given planned gifts.

However, the Pierponts didn't want AFP to have to wait to receive the gift, so they began donating a little at a time. Through the years, their cash contributions have totaled more than $7,000, in addition to their annual support. Their gifts will fund the Pierpont-Welde Research Collection Endowment.

Why did the Pierponts decide to make such a generous contribution? Like many donors, the answer is simply that someone asked them. In the mid-1980s, Dick Wilson, the executive director of the then-NSFRE (National Society of Fund Raising Executives), asked if the couple would consider making a planned gift to the association, and the Pierponts agreed.

A family tradition of philanthropy

Both Pierponts grew up in modest means in the years during and after the Great Depression. But they saw their parents give what they could to others, whether it was Florence Welde taking up neighborhood collections when someone was in need or Robert Pierpont organizing spaghetti dinners to pay the utility bills at the Masonic Lodge during the Depression. John Welde, who was from Norway and never became an American citizen, was a certified Red Cross aid instructor, chief of the Atlantic City, N.J., Auxiliary Police and a volunteer ambulance driver for years.

Bob Pierpont remembers going with his mother to deliver Thanksgiving dinners to families who were struggling.

'I remember going into a house where they still had dirt floors, and a couple of children were sitting on the floor.'

The mother was cooking up sausage in a pan, and that seemed to be the only food the family had for dinner that evening.

'To see my mother's example of helping the less fortunate even though [my parents] weren't that fortunate was very important,' Pierpont said.

Like many fundraisers who started their careers a few decades ago, Pierpont fell into the profession. After graduating from college, he spent two years in the Army and then worked at an electric utility, where he met Marion.

One day he called his alma mater, the Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University), to inquire about a graduate placement program and ended up accepting a job as the director of the university's new development program. The Pierponts were heading to Chester, Pa., where, in 1958, Bob became the first paid, full-time development officer at the college.

Throughout his many years as a fundraiser and member of NSFRE and AFP, Pierpont:

  • helped form the Delaware Valley Chapter, now the AFP Greater Philadelphia Chapter,
  • chaired the first NSFRE fundraising conference outside of New York,
  • was a founding director of the NSFRE Foundation and served as its president,
  • was the first chair of the NSFRE Certification Board,
  • chaired the Ethics Committee, and
  • co-wrote the capital campaign course at The Fundraising School, where he is still on the faculty.

'It has been a privilege to be closely involved with AFP and its predecessor organizations for more than 35 years because of all that I have learned about teaching the joy of giving and the many life-long friends Marion and I have made,' Pierpont said.

The Pierponts also believe it is important to leave a legacy for their four children and grandchildren.

'We want them to know their grandparents and great-grandparents' names are on something more than a tombstone,' Marion said.

For more on the Pierpont-Welde Affiliate Library Collection, visit the Affiliate Library section of the AFP website.

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