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Making a Meaningful and Impactful Gift

Joyce Lawson consulted Dr. Richard Hoppe (pictured) when trying to find the area of greatest need for her legacy gift to Stanford.

Joyce Lawson consulted Dr. Richard Hoppe (pictured) when trying to find the area of greatest need for her legacy gift to Stanford.

Being generous has many meaningful benefits—including knowing your gift is moving the needle on something you care deeply about.

For Joyce Lawson, that meant supporting young Stanford researchers making discoveries in the field of radiation oncology. For nearly 40 years, beginning in 1955, when the Stanford medical school was still in San Francisco, Joyce worked in Stanford's close-knit Department of Radiation Oncology.

Through her work, Joyce got to witness the types of gifts that can make a real difference for patients. When the time came to consider her own estate planning, she knew she wanted to have a long-term impact. She decided not only to name Stanford as a beneficiary of her trust, she also named Stanford as a beneficiary of her retirement account by simply including Stanford on the account administrator's beneficiary designation form.

Naming a charity as a beneficiary of a retirement account is relatively easy and it is also a tax-wise choice, because retirement funds left to individuals are subject to income tax and can sometimes result in estate tax. However, when retirement funds are left to a charity like Stanford, there are no taxes on the funds left to the charity.

Joyce's estate plan included the creation of the Joyce Lawson Fund for Radiation Oncology. She consulted with Richard Hoppe, MD, former chair of the department, because she knew he would have the best sense of how to leverage her gift and make it most useful. They discussed her goals and he helped her define the purpose of her gift. Together, they agreed that supporting the work of investigators—researchers and faculty in the early stages of their careers—would make the biggest possible difference. It was a purpose that made Joyce very happy.

Because she wanted her gift to have lasting value, Joyce chose to create an endowed fund that will continue in perpetuity to support a field that was very important to her. She also included flexible language to describe the use of her gift, in case the greatest needs of the department change over time. By providing that the funds could also be used for education, she made sure her gift would always be useful and have the biggest impact.

Joyce passed away in 2006, but her legacy and deep interest in the department, live on. To date, her fund has supported six researchers by providing seed grants to pursue innovative research in radiation oncology.

"This support has provided funding for junior faculty to study possible new treatments for breast cancer, ways for defining radiation dosages more precisely, and quality of life issues for cancer patients," says Dr. Hoppe.

The impact of her philanthropy will continue to be felt by patients far into the future.

Like Joyce, you too can make a difference with a legacy gift to Stanford. Please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 650.723.6560 or pgmed@stanford.edu to get started.

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