Legacy gifts are a keystone of RAND's $400 million fundraising campaign. They include traditional estate bequests, as well as directed benefits from life insurance or retirement plans. They come with tax benefits and membership in the RAND Legacy Society, which hosts special events twice a year.
July 6, 2021
The RAND Legacy Society recognizes those who have made a planned gift to benefit RAND or Pardee RAND. A Legacy Society commitment may be unrestricted, providing RAND and Pardee RAND leaders with the flexibility to support the most pressing needs—or can be designated to a particular area of research; directed to an impact fund; or allocated to support an endowed chair, fellowship, scholarship, or award.
Ellen Brown Merewether looked back as she looked ahead to the future of RAND and the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She joined the RAND Legacy Society on behalf of her father, Harold Brown, an architect of U.S. national security policy during some of the coldest days of the Cold War.
Brown, both a former U.S. secretary of the Air Force and U.S. secretary of defense, served on the RAND Board of Trustees for more than 35 years. “There was no doubt we’d continue to support RAND to honor my father and his legacy,” Merewether said. She and her sister, Deborah, fulfilled an estate gift to Pardee RAND in the name of the Harold and Colene Brown Family Foundation.
Such legacy gifts are a keystone of RAND’s $400 million fundraising campaign, Tomorrow Demands Today. They include traditional estate bequests, as well as directed benefits from life insurance or retirement plans. They come with tax benefits and membership in the RAND Legacy Society, which hosts special events twice a year. And, as James Thomson knows, they provide a financial foundation for RAND’s future.
Thomson, a nuclear physicist by training, served as RAND’s president from 1989 to 2011. Donor funds allowed him the agility to anticipate policy questions, and provide answers that helped shape the American policy agenda. He invested in groundbreaking research to improve health care quality, for example, which later helped inform debates over the Affordable Care Act.
He and his wife, Darlene, recently joined the Legacy Society with a planned gift to the President’s Fund.
“The most important thing for me when I was president was having unrestricted funds available that I could use to meet the needs of the moment,” said Thomson, now a professor at Pardee RAND. “And I know that having such funds is essential for current and future leadership.”
The needs of this moment inspired Lionel Johnson to include RAND in his estate plans and to name it as a beneficiary on his life insurance policy. He pointed specifically to RAND’s work on climate adaptation, hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, and Truth Decay in American public life.
Johnson has circled the globe on behalf of the U.S. departments of State and Treasury and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He’s now the president of the nonprofit Pacific Pension & Investment Institute and has served on RAND’s board since 2015.
“I wanted to help RAND continue to be nimble and flexible, to lead in research that’s timely and important but that might not otherwise get funding,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to give back and to contribute to the business of objective research—which is as important now as it ever has been.”
Ellen Brown Merewether remembers her father describing RAND research with two words: “gold standard.” She followed him into science, earning her doctorate in physical oceanography; and, like him, she said RAND’s commitment to quality and objectivity sets it apart. “That ethos was the great appeal of RAND,” she said, “and it’s the great appeal to me, as well.”
“RAND has such enormous depth—just the problems they address, from education to the environment to foreign affairs,” she added. “My children will be the last generation that knew my father. I’m certainly hoping they will continue to support RAND. We’re hoping this is a multi-generational association with RAND.”