Smart Giving: Not Just for the Wealthy

Esther MayfieldEsther Mayfield is a pragmatic philanthropist. For her, charitable remainder trusts and annuities make so much sense all around that she'll take you under her wing immediately as a potential convert. And if you ask her, what if I'm not a wealthy person? "Annuities make sense for everybody," she insists. "Really, I think people should begin setting them up when they're in their 50s." Maybe even earlier: She is currently writing a book for children about financial planning.

Planning is critical for success and as a research engineer; Esther has carefully planned her estate to benefit her charities and to preserve her lifetime income. Clearly a thorough person, she holds a BS degree in physics, a master's degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University, a PhD in Engineering from California Western University, and is a registered professional engineer in the state of California.

Thoughtful, thorough planning is also why she has chosen UC San Diego as the beneficiary of several of her gifts, including gift annuities established with life insurance, stock, cash and real estate.

"I have other charities that I am fond of, but within UCSD you can contribute to everything from energy to cancer to research in medicine. Also, I like the fact that the university is flexible and stable." She points to the importance of setting up an annuity with an institution that has the long-term capability to fulfill a donor's vision. "You have to look at an organization in terms of where it will be 20 or so years from now, when your gift matures." Esther has chosen to give to the university's unrestricted fund, to be used at the then-Chancellor's discretion.

Esther Mayfield is worth listening to. Among her accomplishments, she has been a technology advisor to the U.S. Congress, contributed to the design and development of the Global Positioning Systems and has patented her work in microwave technology. In addition to UC San Diego, she actively supports the San Diego Zoo and has served on the Asian Arts Council at the San Diego Museum of Art since 1998.

Finally, Esther is a savvy philanthropist: "UCSD has good interest rates and provides excellent assistance!"