Each supporter of The Nature Conservancy has a story about why they give back — to leave a legacy for their children, to support our mission, to help protect our world. The same holds true of our employees. We asked one of our veteran staffers, Angie Sosdian, why she gives back to the Conservancy.
Angie Sosdian joined The Nature Conservancy in 1980 and has held a variety of fundraising positions since that time. She is currently the Director of Development for Gift Planning and serves on the Executive Team. In 2005, Sosdian received the Conservancy’s Lifetime Achievement Award for professional excellence.
Conservancy Talk: You’ve been at The Nature Conservancy for 33 years. What has kept you at the Conservancy? What inspires you about your job?
Angie Sosdian: I’ve been lucky to have had a long and successful career at the Conservancy. I truly feel that if you find inspiration in your work, then it’s easy to find success in your job. For me, true inspiration really comes from the individuals that I work with and the relationships that I build with them. I’ve had the privilege of working with Conservancy donors, and their love of our work, as well as helping them achieve personal dreams through their giving, is what truly inspires me.
Conservancy Talk: You’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of the Conservancy’s most dedicated supporters. Can you share a story about a Conservancy supporter that has really touched you?
Angie Sosdian: Mr. Tom Darling was a gentleman I knew and visited for many years. Every summer of his 90+ years he returned to his family home in the Poconos. We often talked about the bogs and ponds there that he loved to explore. For his 90th birthday the Conservancy dedicated a nature preserve to him, and many staff attended his birthday celebration. He said it was the best birthday present he ever received.
On one of our regular visits, I asked him what it was that led him to make his gifts to the Conservancy. He described much more eloquently than I ever could those ponds and pitcher plants and nature that he loved so much, the joy he found in the fact that they were still there for him and other people to explore. He said something like, “This is what I want to leave. This is what is important to me.”
Conservancy Talk: I can tell that talking about this is making you emotional.
Angie Sosdian: Well, I and other individuals in this organization get a lot of joy from working with our supporters. How many of us get to say they work for organizations that do great work and get to help people like Mr. Darling make their dreams come true?
Conservancy Talk: Twenty years ago you launched the Legacy Club, a group of Conservancy supporters who have made life-income gifts or have named the Conservancy in their estate plans. What does the Legacy Club mean to you?
Angie Sosdian: The assets we accumulate over a lifetime we typically leave to our family. To me, the fact that our Legacy Club members have included the Conservancy in their estates really means that they have elevated us to the level of a family member, and we should treat them as such in return.
Individuals in the Legacy Club are very special donors. I believe they hold us close to their hearts and that they deserve our special thanks and recognition.
Conservancy Talk: Is it true that you are a member of the Legacy Club? Why did you decide to give?
Angie Sosdian: Yes, I am! Well, if I’m asking people to support the Conservancy in this way, I should be doing it as well. But more importantly, I have two children and want to make the world a better place for them. I named the Conservancy as the beneficiary of my retirement plan because I believe in the work of the organization and that it can help ensure a healthy world for future generations.
Conservancy Talk: Overall, what are the most common reasons you hear from people about why they give to The Nature Conservancy? Have those reasons changed over the years?
Angie Sosdian: Many Legacy Club members I’ve worked with were initially attracted to us years ago for our place-based work, but what they like most about our work is that it is positive, tangible and lasting. Those points still ring true. But I’m seeing excitement, enthusiasm and a new energy on the part of our volunteers and existing supporters in how the Conservancy is tackling the challenges of allowing people to thrive economically – while we protect nature. And I continue to hear that the Conservancy gets results and makes a difference.
Conservancy Talk: The Conservancy is so thankful for all of our supporters, no matter the amount they are able to give. What would you say to someone who feels they shouldn’t bother if they can only give a small amount?
Angie Sosdian: I want people to look around and think about how we can all make a difference in the world. Think about what that means to you and what a privilege it is that you can do that. Take advantage of the opportunity to have your voice heard.
Have your voice heard. Share your reasons for giving! »
[Top image: California ranch. Image source: Ian Shive. Bottom image: The Nature Conservancy's Angie Sosdian. Image source: Angie Sosdian]