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Tim Kochis: Legacy Giving

Tim Kochis and Penelope Wong joined The Asia Foundation’s Haydn Williams Legacy Society by making arrangements in their living trust to give a percentage of their eventual estate to The Asia Foundation. This is in addition to many annual gifts over the years and pledges to the current campaign. These combine to make an impactful contribution to the present and long-term future of the Foundation. By making this additional legacy gift, they can be sure it will not jeopardize assets that they will continue to require to live their lives to the fullest.

John Robinson, director of Leadership Gifts at The Asia Foundation recently spoke with Tim about his generous decision to include The Asia Foundation in his estate plans.

JR: How did you first get involved with The Asia Foundation?

TK: My good friend and longtime Foundation board member Paul Slawson invited me to join the President’s Leadership Council. With his encouragement, I started attending briefings and meetings, both domestic and in Asia, and came to deeply appreciate the scope and depth of The Asia Foundation’s work.

JR: What was your first gift to the Foundation?

TK: My conversations with Paul and David Arnold never specified the size of gift I was expected to make as a member of the PLC; but I think it would have made sense to be clear, upfront, about that. In the intervening years, we’ve made a lot of progress about being clear and specific about this in the cultivation of PLC and Board members. In any event, absent much guidance at the time, I made an initial gift of $10K. Many further and larger gifts followed over subsequent years.

From the beginning of my involvement with the Foundation, I’ve been impressed by how efficiently the Foundation puts its resources to work. There are so many hugely talented and dedicated people at the Foundation, at all levels, both in the US and in our many areas of focus in Asia; so when we contribute, we know we are investing in work that is strategic, important, and durable. Another outcome, of course, is that gifts from “insiders,” like Foundation trustees, help unlock additional support from other individual donors, corporations, and foundations. It also demonstrates the merit of our continuing to receive crucial support from Congress and public sector funders like USAID.

JR: How does that work?

TK: Robust private sector philanthropy signals to foundations and the public sector that people who have familiarity and have done their due diligence are impressed with the impact and return on their investment. Others are then much more comfortable in following suit.

JR: What Foundation programs resonate most with you?

TK: It’s important to acknowledge that all the Foundation’s programs are very important. Our “signature” endeavor, programs to promote and support good governance are subtle and are often carried out behind the scenes. While they may not receive as much publicity, these programs give The Asia Foundation a strong platform inside each country, making it possible to roll out other relevant programs. The Asia Foundation is famous in Asia for being invested for the long haul—building trust and working strategically with country leaders to improve the lives of their compatriots.

The Foundation also has programs to deliver progress on environmental threats, put books in the hands of children and develop emerging leaders, to cite just a few. But if we could do just one thing, I would want us to continue with the transformative work of the Women’s Empowerment Program. This work cuts across every country and every program area and has very long-range impacts that span entire populations, impacts that endure and expand through future generations. Asia has nearly 60 percent of the world’s population, so roughly one in every three humans on the planet is an Asian woman. Programs that connect those women to greater social, economic, and political opportunities are crucial to the fundamental goal of a just and thriving Asia.

JR: What do you wish everyone knew about The Asia Foundation?

TK: I’d start by having them know that we even exist. After nearly 70 years of significant achievements in Asia, we are virtually unknown in philanthropic circles in the US. So next, I’d want everyone to know how impactful the Foundation is!!

It is challenging, in a short conversation, to share the full scope and depth of The Asia Foundation’s work. With eighteen country offices, nearly 800 staff members, a wide range of excellent program areas, and a long and distinguished history of thoughtful international development work, The Asia Foundation defies a quick elevator pitch. I encourage others to get involved with the Lotus Circle or the President’s Leadership Council or to learn about any of the innovative programs like Let’s Read. However, or wherever, you start to explore the work of The Asia Foundation, you can’t help but be inspired.

Related topics: About The Asia Foundation

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This year, we celebrate 70 years of improving lives and expanding opportunities.