"So Always Be Ready" - An Interview with Tom and Dan Thimons on the Petrus Development ShowApr 05, 2023
In this episode, Andrew interviews brothers Tom and Dan Thimons. Together, Tom and Dan founded My Catholic Will, the only online Catholic will-writing platform. Andrew invites Tom and Dan to share about My Catholic Will, how they got it started, and what they hope it will become in the future. The Thimons brothers share tools that fundraisers can use to encourage planned giving with their donors, and they also remind all listeners to consider planned gifts to their favorite organizations in their own wills.
As brothers, Dan and Tom grew up together in their family of 10. Dan is the oldest of the siblings, and Tom is 4th in the age order. After graduating and leaving home, both Thimons brothers went to work in Catholic ministries. Before starting My Catholic Will, Dan worked in 3 different Ohio dioceses, and he directed marriage and family programs for each of them. Tom also worked in ministry after college, and he spent 15 years in fundraising for Catholic organizations.
As a development officer, Tom was always drawn to the (often overlooked!) area of planned giving. Too often, organizations put planned giving on the back burner because of the pressing realities of current budget needs. Planned giving has the potential to be a great source of future income, but it doesn’t help keep a ministry’s operations running in the now. Tom’s experience in development inspired him to start My Catholic Will, and he invited Dan to join him on that entrepreneurial journey.
My Catholic Will
Tom and Dan started My Catholic Will as a tool that Catholic organizations can use to raise significant planned gifts. When partner organizations invite their donors to use My Catholic Will for estate planning, their donors will be prompted to offer a planned gift to the ministry as they create their will. Tom and Dan hope that this partnership and this prompting will create a substantial source of planned giving revenue for ministries nationwide. The information gleaned from donors who create online wills also helps the ministries better understand their donors’ current needs. In the future, My Catholic Will also hopes to add resources for funeral mass planning and for writing medical directives from a Catholic perspective.
Estate Planning Statistics
Dan shares some key metrics about the current state of estate planning in the United States. Over half of American adults do not have a will, and in an even bigger surprise, about a quarter of adults over 65 don’t have a will. Clearly, many American adults avoid will-making with a passion, and Dan and Tom hope that My Catholic Will will make estate planning less daunting and more accessible.
- If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
- Dan: To the person who is listening right now, I want to fundraise for your organization. We would love to partner with you to fundraise and secure legacy gifts.
- Tom: I’d fundraise for the Catholic Church as a whole. You can’t go wrong by fundraising for the Catholic Church and any of its organizations.
- Tom: I love having meetings with donors when I don’t know what their story or giving capacity is, but I’m willing to listen. That’s what makes fundraisers better - the willingness to have conversations without knowing how much money a donor might have.
- Dan: Fundraising is not my background, and I’ve never had a donor meeting, but I would choose my neighbors, Larry and Jane. We met on the pickleball court, and they’re so much fun. I love to see the people God puts in my life; I want to be present to them.
- Dan: Yes! (“And if not, the treasury will print more!”)
- Tom: “He said yes, and so I’ll say no!”
- Tom: Don’t get so caught up in fear about the unknown; trust in God more.
- Dan: I’d tell myself not to take myself too seriously. God asks us to be faithful, not necessarily successful, in all things.
- Dan: The 3 bishops I worked for in the Ohio dioceses: Bishop George Murry (Youngstown), Bishop Frederick Campbell (Columbus), and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr (Cincinnati). These are 3 great, faithful men, and knowing them personally really showed me what it’s like to be a father and a leader.
- Tom: Mine is similar. I worked at 3 organizations full-time before My Catholic Will, and I name people I worked with at each of those organizations: Cardinal Dolan (New York), Cardinal Burke (Wisconsin), and Fr. Chris Alar (Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception). They’re all fantastic fathers and fantastic leaders.
- Tom: Once, on a whim, Dan and I hopped in the car and drove from Pittsburgh to the Grand Canyon. We drove, saw the canyon for a few hours, and started the drive home. It was an incredible journey.
- Dan: I once won an honorable mention in a recipe contest for my recipe for cottage cheese peach boats.
- Dan: The Bible. And, if you don’t like to read, there’s the “The Bible in a Year” podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz.
- Tom: The Confessions of St. Augustine
If you would like to connect with Tom and Dan, please check out the My Catholic Will website at mycatholicwill.com. They both share their LinkedIn profile links on the site, and they invite you to reach out to them on LinkedIn!
First things first, if you’re listening to this podcast, and you don’t have a will, make it a priority to write one. The statistics that Tom and Dan shared about the current state of American estate planning are striking but not unbelievable. I host another Petrus podcast, Holy Donors, and in our handful of seasons of that show, we’ve met a number of very wealthy philanthropists who die without a will (or, equally as bad, with multiple conflicting wills!).
These stories have highlighted the necessity of wills and the consequences of not having a good one. (As a side note, if you’re interested in this fascinating occurrence, check out Holy Donors Season 7 featuring Tim Scanlan or Season 12’s Sarita Kenedy East. Both stories include much will drama following our holy donor’s death.) To sum up my first takeaway, Matthew’s Gospel is clear. Matthew instructs us on readiness by telling us, “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day your Lord will come.” We don’t know when we will pass away and go meet our Lord, and we need to be ready.
One logistical way to be ready is by having a will. Yes, there are many other facets to readying our hearts and our minds, but we also need to be practical, and practical calls us to have one legal will, hopefully with a planned gift included.
My second takeaway is simply an encouraging one, a kind of push to action. As Tom, Dan, and I discussed, planned giving is often pushed to the back burner by development professionals. Planned giving doesn’t pay today’s bills, and let’s be honest, many fundraisers don’t know enough about planned giving to be comfortable bringing it up. Thus, we avoid it.
I am here to encourage us all to start talking about planned giving with our donors. The unknown can be uncomfortable, but it’s not impossible. Consult with tax and estate planning experts who can give you a cheat sheet of notes to follow and questions to ask.
Bumble through the tough conversations. Recognize that while planned giving doesn’t keep the lights on and staff paid today, it might help do those things 5 years from now. When we look at the larger picture about ministry sustainability, an increased focus on planned giving makes a lot of sense.
Finally, my third takeaway is about God’s amazing generosity. I loved Dan’s story about the Panera gift card. (I eat at Panera regularly, and I’d absolutely hold on to a Panera gift card in my wallet for future use!) I am so thankful that Dan shared his story about how, when he gave that gift card away, God, in turn, sent even bigger blessings from Panera for one of his ministries.
As we think about how we approach our donors (and about how we approach our own charitable giving), let us remember that when we hold tightly to what we’ve been given, afraid to give it away, we often miss out on the bigger blessings God wishes to offer.
As Tom puts it in his message to Catholic philanthropists, “God is never outdone in generosity.” Let us practice radical generosity in our own lives, and as we do so, let’s open our eyes to see how God’s generosity is even more amazing than we can imagine.
As usual, thanks for joining me for this interview. I sure hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to subscribe to this show and our other shows, Holy Donors and Women in Philanthropy. Also, check out our website for information about upcoming events, including RAISE23: The Catholic Fundraising Conference. We will be in Louisville, Kentucky June 19-21 and hope that you will join us there.
01:06.19 aggierobison Well hi everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Petrus Development Show. I am thrilled that you're with us. I have two special guests today. I've got the Thimons brothers, Dan and Tom, from My Catholic Will, who are joining me today and we're going to talk about fundraising. We're going to talk about estate planning, planned gifts, wills, and all that fun stuff that you want to know more about, and you might just be looking for a place to find some information. So I'm excited to have Dan and Tom on the show, and I have no doubt we'll have a great conversation. So Dan and Tom, thanks for being here.
01:37.61 Dan Thimons Thank you. It's great to be here.
01:39.24 Tom Thimons Thanks for having us.
01:44.40 aggierobison So we always start our shows by handing it over to the guests. So tell us a little bit about your backgrounds, kind of how you came up into this place, and then tell us a little bit about what My Catholic Will is.
01:57.53 Tom Thimons Yeah, thank you. So surprisingly, we met in the same family. We're related, but I spent the last fifteen years after graduating college in fundraising, working for various organizations within the Catholic Church, and many of those, even within fundraising management. One area of fundraising that I was always drawn to, but organizations have a lot of times overlooked, is planned giving.
We're looking to meet the budget a lot of times and get those funds in the door to keep the operations going. Planned giving tends to be on the back burner in the back of our minds for smaller organizations. But about two years ago, I had this inspiration to start up a company, My Catholic Will, which is a way for great Catholic organizations to raise significant planned gifts through their donors, their constituents, creating an online will, and directing some of those assets to the partnering organizations that we're working with.
"Yeah, Tom and I were from a family of 10. I'm the oldest, and Tom is number 4. So everything he's learned, he's learned from me." If you just want to give a little bit of background about yourself, Dan.
After graduating from grad school, I went on to work in three different dioceses in Ohio: the diocese of Youngstown, the diocese of Columbus, and then the archdiocese of Cincinnati. I just found out that Andrew and I had just missed each other in Columbus. He was there shortly before I arrived in 2012. I have lots of great experience in three different dioceses in Ohio, directing marriage and family ministry in those three dioceses, really involved with evangelization, doing a lot of engaged couple retreats.
03:59.43 Aggie Robison: That's right.
04:15.43 Dan Thimons: Um, formation of sponsor couples, preparing couples for marriage, doing marriage retreats and things like that. Um, so really from an evangelization perspective, that's where I come from. Um, and Tom's a fundraiser. So he approached me with this idea probably about two years ago, maybe a little over two years ago, and it was kind of like, "Yeah, that's a nice idea. Um, we'll get to that sometime. Not right now." But it was, I think, after yeah, you know, all the COVID shutdowns and all that happened.
04:47.41 Aggie Robison: Yeah.
04:53.88 Dan Thimons: And, you know, a lot of people are thinking, you know, reevaluating things, I guess, and he came back to me with this idea like, you know, what about this. We've never really, we've never really got together and really sat down and asked ourselves if this is something that we could tackle. And so we took it more seriously and spent the better part of a year just sort of talking with people and different developers and attorneys and organizations and seeing if this was, if there was a market for this, and then kind of put it all together over the last year, year and a half.
05:36.82 Aggie Robison: That's awesome. One of the big fears when it comes to planned giving and estate planning is just knowing the language and knowing all the different vehicles, right? So, you know, estate planners and lawyers, you get accountants involved. You get, um, you know, financial planners. All of that. Is that something that either of you, it doesn't sound like it, but is that something that you guys have a background in? Or how have you educated yourself so that you can speak the language and understand all of those pieces of it?
06:04.66 Dan Thimons: Right. It's definitely talking with those who are experts in those areas has been really big for us over these past few years. So that's really been the key. I find that I've learned a ton. Um, and I've learned a lot more that I don't know. You know, so we have our attorney research the will requirements of all 50 states, and we have this huge document that, you know, it's how I fall asleep at night. I can try reading through this. I don't pretend to understand it all. I don't pretend to be the expert in that. Um.
06:26.19 aggierobison Yeah.
06:39.45 aggierobison The.
06:41.70 Dan Thimons But yeah, it's been really cool learning a lot over this last year.
06:52.51 aggierobison Yeah, I have two questions for you. I'm not supposed to ask two questions to save time, but I'll ask them anyway. The first question is, what are your goals with My Catholic Will? So what is your long-term vision for it and where do you see it going? And the second question is, what are you doing now and what are the offerings that a diocese, parish, or fundraiser can access now with My Catholic Will?
07:24.27 Tom Thimons Sure. Our long-term vision for My Catholic Will is to create a substantial source of planned giving revenue for great Catholic nonprofits around the country. We firmly believe that it's not that difficult to achieve. While one-on-one meetings with major donors may require an investment of time and energy, our tool can help create a path for revenue in the future. Our tool can even potentially identify some donors who may not even be on your radar. For instance, if an individual is likely to give a large gift to an organization through a planned gift, and their current support doesn't match the indication that they're potentially receiving in the future from this individual, that opens up the door for a conversation. It opens up the door to really discover where the donor is in terms of their other financial obligations. So, it not only creates a source of revenue in the future, but even today, it helps us understand our donors better. I think that data is really key because you're providing them this resource to write their will, and that is what unlocks the data for you. They're not going to come and volunteer the amount of their estimated assets.
08:32.85 aggierobison Oh yeah.
09:37.56 Tom Thimons: You know you can't ask a donor that one-on-one, but this kind of third-party platform that we provide our partnering organizations really creates that opportunity to provide great data for them. And the second question, I don't...
09:53.60 Aggie Robison: Where do you see it going? But before we do that, what are some of the statistics around estate planning and Americans that have wills? I'm sure you guys have learned all those numbers. So, what are the ones that are kind of the...
10:08.60 Dan Thimons: Right, right. So, kind of the key metrics. I think there was a recent Gallup poll that said that 54% of American adults do not have a will.
10:10.18 Aggie Robison: The hardest hitting and the ones that our listeners should know about in terms of from a fundraising standpoint.
10:24.25 Dan Thimons: And one fourth of those over age 65 don't have a will. There are a number of reasons for that, one of those being that people don't like to think about death. I guess it's kind of like, "I want to put this off because I don't want to think about it," but the number one reason cited...
10:25.91 Aggie Robison: That is wild to me.
10:44.22 Dan Thimons: ...is that people simply haven't gotten around to it. It's something that adults know they should be doing, but, you know, we're busy, and it's like, "Oh, I can do that some other time," so I haven't gotten around to it.
10:49.37 Aggie Robison: Oh.
11:03.47 Aggie Robison: Yeah, we do another show called "Unholy Donors," and on that show, we spotlight individuals throughout history, Catholics who have changed the world through their radical generosity. We're amazed, and a lot of these are, you know, kind of, ah, nineteenth century or really twentieth century, into there, and so many of these ultra-ultra-wealthy Catholics die without a will, and it becomes like this huge... You know, Tim Scanlan was one of them, and he was one of the wealthiest Americans, or certainly Texans post-civil war, and... died without a will and had seven daughters who had to kind of pick it up and carry it on. And we're reading this, and we're like, "What? This guy was, like, literally one of the wealthiest people in the state," and I'm sure he just never got around to it or couldn't make the decisions and so just kept putting it off, and he... died tragically too young, and that was... I'm sure part of it just felt like there was time to get to it later and didn't work out that way.
12:01.77 Tom Thimons: Um, right? Yeah, and actually, that's an interesting point, Andrew. What we're trying to do as well is not make writing a will some far-off thing that needs to be done in the future before you pass away. But really, as simple as thinking of getting your driver's license or just becoming an adult and taking on responsibility - having a job, getting married - it should come in those early years. And really, what we're hoping is that just by planting the seeds, even among younger Catholics, it gets that wheel turning of "Okay, I need to start thinking about these things." And thinking about them in a way of how am I going to protect my family if I have a young family? And, you know, obviously, if my faith means something to me, what does that mean for the future of the church? What's the impact that I have on the future of the church? So, regardless of if an individual goes to My Catholic Will and writes their will and regardless if that is their final last will and testament or maybe their first will that they've ever written, it just kind of gets them thinking in this way of preparing for the future.
13:25.26 Dan Thimons: Yeah, I have an estate planning attorney friend from Michigan, and he's really big on when someone turns 18, when they graduate high school and they go off to college, that's the time to start thinking about making a will. It's not when you're 65, 70, 80, but really, you become an adult, get your driver's license, register to vote, make a will, right at that same time.
13:57.30 Aggierobison: Because it's kind of like, you know, this is I opened my first retirement account when I was somewhere around there, right? You know, early college or late high school, and it was, you know, I don't know, I started with a thousand dollars that I'd saved up in birthday money, funds kind of a thing. But once I had it started, then it was like, I always knew that I could, you know, when I got a job, I could set up a draft to go into it, or I could adjust it, or I could roll it over to another work retirement account. I imagine it's probably a similar kind of idea with a will. Like, if you start it.
Then down the road, it's just that I need to update it, right? Which means that I need to do that, and that's not as easy as it sounds. But updating it sounds a lot less daunting than starting from scratch when I have three kids, a mortgage, and I don't know what to do with this. We're trying to save for college, and I don't know how to make these decisions.
14:50.42 Tom Thimons: Right.
14:54.13 aggierobison: So, what will my Catholic will look like right now? You said you have partner organizations. How do organizations partner with you, and what are you doing? I know you said your goal is to establish revenue streams for these partners, presumably dioceses and parishes. What does that look like, and how do you see that user experience evolving over time?
15:21.53 Dan Thimons: Yeah, sorry, I wasn't paying attention to the question because I was distracted.
15:32.60 aggierobison That's fine. Let's include that in the outtakes. My question is, how are you currently serving partner organizations, and what does the actual user experience look like?
15:46.60 Dan Thimons Our partnering organizations get a listing on our site, which they can use to promote to their constituents and donors. They can also have their own custom URL on our platform. For instance, Scott Han's St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is one of our partners, and users can go to mycatholicwell.com/stpaul to access their portion of our platform. As they complete their will, they will be prompted to consider leaving a percent gift of their estate to the St. Paul Center. They will also be able to divide up their tangible assets, select guardians for their children, select executors, and more, just like in an online will form. Once they finish, they can print out a PDF of their will and receive instructions on how to make it legal according to state law. By partnering with us, organizations receive a custom URL landing page, where users can see their logo and be encouraged to donate to their cause.
17:53.61 aggierobison I love that. Convenience is one thing, but it's really about giving charities the opportunity to be included in people's estate plans. One of our clients in Kansas had a similar discussion a couple of years ago. They held an end-of-life summit on a Saturday morning, where they brought in a Catholic accountant to talk about finances, a Catholic financial planner, and an attorney. They discussed end-of-life care and concerns for attendees and their elderly parents. The participants loved it because they learned valuable information and had the opportunity to ask questions. It also made them think about including their church in their estate plans. Are you considering something similar?
19:29.98 AggieRobison: Do you see occasions like that or events like that or strategies like that being utilized by some of your partners to both provide a service to their donors and then also open those channels of communication?
19:39.10 Dan Thimons: Right? Absolutely. One thing we didn't mention is it's not only our platform that is a will-writing tool or a method for partnering organizations to secure legacy gifts, but it's also a way for Catholics to make advanced medical directives. So, similar to a living will, advanced directives from a Catholic perspective ensure that if they were to become incapacitated, their final wishes or their medical decisions would be in accordance with the Catholic faith.
20:02.40 AggieRobison: Yeah, it's huge. I love that there's a holistic look, right? It's end-of-life issues and not just, you know, my Catholic will is the main. I'm sure most of the people are going to end up there for that reason, but it is sort of an outlook on all of these issues. What are some of the, I guess I'll ask the question this way. What do you wish more Catholics knew about philanthropy and generosity that you guys have learned in this kind of two-year journey of coming to this point to launch Mike Ethic will?
21:14.73 Tom Thimons: Yeah, yeah, Dan has a great story here. So I'll let him tell it. But I think that the number one thing, especially from a Catholic perspective, is to always remember that God is never outdone in generosity. So that's true for the organizations, to know that, to embrace that, to remember that, and that's true for us as individuals, as donors, as the organizations we support, that no matter what we give and how we support the church and the many great works within the church, God is never outdone in generosity. Dan, I'll let you share your story that you shared with me earlier.
21:55.92 Dan Thimons: Yeah, so actually, it just happened yesterday. My wife had a Panera gift card, a $15 Panera gift card that we were holding onto for probably a year and a half. I believe it was winnings from a family March Madness pool back in 2019 or something. So she's carrying around this $15 Panera gift card, waiting for the perfect time to get our half sandwich and a cup of soup at Panera, but she decided it was our godson's birthday.
22:31.83 Dan Thimons: Ah, he would probably love to go to Panera and get a pastry and a couple of cookies. So she gave it to him for his birthday. That same day, Panera calls us up. We were on the list to get Panera donations for our parish coffee and donuts. So they called us up and said we can pick up all of their day-old breads and bagels and everything they have on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday every week. So she gives a $15 Panera gift card away, and we end up with $500 of Panera goods every week. But it's just an example of holding on to these worldly goods that are ultimately all a gift from God. As Thomas says, when we're holding that so tightly, God's not able to bless us. But it's when we give with an open hand, when we don't let our left hand know what our right hand is doing, and then when we're generous prior to the blessing. Sometimes we think, "Oh, I'll wait until I win the mega-millions, and then I'll donate $100 million to these great organizations." Well, don't wait till you win the mega-millions. You have something now to give out of the widow's might or whatever, and when we do that, God blesses us beyond what we would even imagine.
23:14.84 Aggie Robison: Wow.
23:24.48 Aggie Robison: Right.
23:26.82 Dan Thimons: God blesses us beyond what we would even imagine. So...
24:04.00 Dan Thimons: God blesses us beyond what we would even imagine. So...
24:13.25 Aggie Robison: That's awesome. I think that's an amazing story about Panera Bread, and the lessons we learn come from all sorts of different places, right? Yeah, that's great. That's so...
24:13.67 Dan Thimons: Are.
24:22.63 Tom Thimons: That's unpaid advertising right there.
24:28.79 Aggie Robison: Ah, last question before we switch our lightning round. So you guys are now entrepreneurs. What has the experience been like working together as brothers on this?
24:38.14 Tom Thimons: Yeah, no, absolutely. That's a great question, and it's been absolutely rewarding beyond what I could imagine. You know, growing up together, kind of just being kids in the '90s, and sometimes doing what brothers do and getting into fights and things like that, and kind of years down the road, I would have never imagined our paths would cross again, and this opportunity would present itself. But, as I said to Dan a few weeks ago, I was like, "This is the best job I have ever had." It's been fantastic, working for great Catholic organizations in the Church, many of whom I still keep in regular contact with. But I would replace it all with working together with my brother for this kind of common golden mission, supporting each other professionally, and really for the Church. I think deep down in our core, and I think a lot of it's how we were raised, that our mission needs to be directed to supporting the work of the Church. And that's thanks, obviously, to our fantastic parents, but in this way, with my Catholic will...
26:08.63 Tom Thimons: "I think it's really coming to completion, ah, you know, completion here in a way that I probably never thought would be possible just a few years ago."
26:17.70 Dan Thimons: "You likewise, likewise, I would say the same thing, Tom, as probably the best boss I have ever had. That's no dig to the three bishops or the two bishops, the archbishop or the pastor that I've worked for. They've all been great also. But, especially because Tom is in Florida and I'm in Pennsylvania, it makes things run a lot smoother. Ah, it's not those fights aren't as easy because we can just click leave the Zoom meeting that little her button or."
26:50.34 Aggie Robison: "Yeah, I am curious. Ah, have you got your other eight siblings on? Have they all completed their profiles on My Catholic Will so far?"
26:58.50 Tom Thimons: "But not yet, you know, it's ah, it's one of those things that you know, ah, profit is well without honor in his own native place."
27:08.94 Aggie Robison: "Yeah, the cobbler's children go shoeless, is that the way that works? Yeah, I understand, ah, well good. Well, um, ah, Dan, Tom, this is great. I love what you guys are doing and I certainly wish you guys the best as you move forward and. Um, I hope that a lot of organizations and institutions and partners recognize the value that you guys are creating and the conversations that you're opening up for them. Um, and can take advantage of that, great. So, what do you say? We answer our lightning round now."
27:32.87 Dan Thimons: "Thank you, thank you."
27:37.45 Tom Thimons: "Um, thank you, sounds great."
27:45.64 Aggie Robison: "Great, getty up. Alright, question number one in lightning round, and we'll just go back and forth. So, I'll start with Dan on this first one and then Tom, you can answer number one and then we'll do the reverse for number two. Sound good, right? Question number one."
Dan Thimons: "Well, it would be up to the person who's listening right now to this podcast, to your organization. Love, love to love to love to partner with you and fundraise, help secure legacy gifts. Mike at thegirl.com."
Aggie Robison: "Dan, if you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any point in history, what would it be?"
Dan Thimons: "Preserve a meeting."
Aggie Robison: "Love it. Perfect. Tom, how about you?"
Tom Thimons: "Ah, I guess Dan took my answer but, no, it's ah, you know, if we can say that if we can say the Catholic Church as a whole, right? You know, it's not a particular organization but it is a cause, so um, you know, really again like I just reiterate what I said earlier. Ah. Fundraising for the Catholic Church and any one of their organizations. Um, you know I think you can't go wrong right? So they're all, you know, different. They all operate differently but they all have their strengths and ah you know they're great their great mission so it's always great. Um, you know, meeting people who support, ah, the organizations that support the work of the church."
Aggie Robison: "Awesome! Great question number 2. Tom, you get this one first. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be with?"
Tom Thimons: "Yeah, that's a great question and um, I was thinking about this earlier and um, you know, my my fundraising hat that I've worn for many years, I think has has failed me in a sense because um, so often I've looked at ah, individuals with dollar signs on their head, right? So um, I've kind of you know, been you know ah, you know, kind of ah ah, ruined in that way. But you know, looking at looking at individuals, um, as with dignity and respect and ah and you know, honestly I think you know, going back to even like Mother Teresa and how she looked at individuals and people and um, really the donor meeting that I'd love to have is the one that um, is simply the one that you don't expect, right? The donor that you don't necessarily know what their capacity is or what their story is but you're willing to listen to it and I think that makes fundraisers better, right? When they're out there and they're and they're ready to listen to people and talk and have those conversations. Without knowing kind of the dollar sign that's above their head."
30:30.36 aggierobison Awesome, Dan Dan. How about you?
30:31.84 Dan Thimons Being that this fundraising is not my background, I've never had a donor meeting with anyone. If I could get a donor meeting with someone, it would probably be our neighbors Larry and Jane. We met them on the pickleball court. They're the same age as our parents, and my wife and I played them in doubles pickleball at our park near our house. Larry just had quadruple bypass surgery, and they don't play by the rules of ball; the ball bounces several times before they hit it back. If it goes out of bounds, they don't care. They're just really a lot of fun. Just to meet them, and really like Tom said, I think that's the people that God puts in your life, where it's not some far-off, "Oh, I wish I could," you know, these far-off dreams. But really, the people that God places in your life and just to be present to them is, I think, that's key.
31:37.56 aggierobison That's awesome. All right, question number 3, we're at Dan now. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
31:43.45 Dan Thimons Yes, and if not, the Treasury will print more. So, I don't know, Tom, you take.
31:56.24 Tom Thimons Ah, well, he said yes, I'll say no. Easy, easy answer.
31:57.23 aggierobison Okay, yeah, well, there you go. We have a split decision on number three. I can understand, I guess, like that. All right, question number 4, Tom. If you could go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
32:15.59 Tom Thimons Ah, the piece of advice I would offer myself would be ah, don't get so caught up in fear about the unknown, right? And just to really trust in God more with professional career development, life in general. Um, I think so many times, myself, speaking from personal experience, just simply getting caught up in just the what-ifs and, you know, the uncertainty of life and simply placing trust in the Lord, right? So, when we do that, we kind of can't go wrong. So regardless of whatever situation that life has thrown at me, personally, obviously God has always provided, and He always will, and so I think it's kind of this constant reminder that still today I have to wake up and remind myself of.
33:17.87 Dan Thimons Probably not to take myself too seriously, I would say. God asks us to be faithful, not necessarily successful in everything, and I think I would tend to...
33:18.80 aggierobison That's great. I love that. Dan, how about you?
33:32.93 Dan Thimons Especially in the Diocese running marriage prep, a lot of times that was a struggle trying to pass on the faith to a lot of engaged couples who many times did not want to be there at these marriage prep days. And I would always think to myself, after those were over, I could have done this differently. I could have said this differently. Rather than just giving the day to God and saying, "You know, touch their hearts, allow the Holy Spirit to touch their hearts," and the unique thing is, like a lot of times
I've run into couples later on in random years later, and they said, "Wait, weren't you at that marriage prep day? You were our presenter. Oh, I remember when you said this. That really touched me, and that affected me, and I would have left that day thinking this is a disaster." All had blank looks on their faces. But something did hit and something struck. And really, being able to give that to God in the moment and allowing him to work in their hearts, rather than...
34:27.50 aggierobison Um, yeah.
34:39.78 Dan Thimons Me needing to see the results instantly, I think that's something I would definitely tell myself.
34:47.86 aggierobison I think that's something we always struggle with, right? We see a problem and we want to solve that problem now, and we want a solution for it now, whether it's a problem internally or a problem we're trying to address through our work. It's tough to say, "I'm planting the seeds for the solution to this problem now, and I'll see the results later." And that's a huge thing with planned giving, right? As a fundraiser, I used to work for the Technan Foundation, and they would book, I don't know what they're booking now, but when I left, they were booking somewhere around $150 million annually in new planned gifts. Well, they didn't start the year before that, right? They started 20 years before that when they were struggling just to tell people what plan giving is. But because they invested in it, they made that commitment long-term, then they're booking that volume of gifts. And then on the flip side, they're seeing the return on that of between 20 and $30,000,000 annually on planned gifts that were booked years in advance. And I think that's what you guys are doing is great, and it's taking steps now to address the needs of your members, the donors, and the needs of the organizations long into the future.
36:08.55 Dan Thimons Right, exactly.
36:10.73 Tom Thimons Um...
36:16.62 aggierobison Ah, question number 5, Dan, who are three people who have most influenced your professional development?
36:19.72 Dan Thimons Probably Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, but after those three, maybe the three bishops that I've worked for. I worked for Bishop George Murray in Youngstown, God rest his soul, Bishop Frederick Campbell in Columbus.
36:26.82 Tom Thimons Um...
36:36.31 Dan Thimons And then Archbishop Dennis Schnurr in Cincinnati. Really great, three really great, faithful men. You know, it's a challenge a lot of times working in a diocesan bureaucracy, but really, knowing these three bishops personally and seeing how they supported my ideas, they would listen to me, they would share feedback, they've really shown me what it's like to be a father and a leader.
37:01.70 aggierobison Yeah.
37:11.75 aggierobison That's awesome. Yeah, how about you, Tom?
37:12.22 Tom Thimons You know, yeah, kind of on that note, I've also worked for three different great organizations full-time. I've worked for the Archdiocese in New York under Cardinal Dolan, I've worked alongside Cardinal Burke at the Shrine of Arleo Guadalupe in Wisconsin,
And Father Chris Alar at the Marion Fathers in Stockbridge at the Divine Mercy Shrine, and kind of along that same note, these are just fantastic fathers and fantastic leaders. As I left each of these organizations and most recently the Marion, I remember sharing with Father Alar that if I'm ever in front of somebody who doesn't know about your work or wants to know more, I'm absolutely going to encourage them to support your work. So, I think, probably like Dan, obviously working at different places, there are pros and cons. But trying to always see the mission and the vision of these organizations and the leadership of these individuals has been really helpful for my own career growth. And, you know, in a second, I would be happy to go on a major gift meeting and talk about any of these fantastic men and organizations in the Church and encourage supporting any of them. So, yeah, just really blessed with a lot of great leaders in the Church.
Aggierobison: Awesome! Love it. Two of my bosses were in the same areas of Texas, and they were priests who became bishops, so I worked for Father Mike Sis just for a brief time, and now he's Bishop Mikeis in St Angelo Texas. And then his replacement was Father David Konderla, who's now Bishop David konderla in the Diocese of Tulsa. So yeah, the holy men who put the nice -- I mean, the interesting thing about both of those, and maybe this is your experience as well, but they were really good at both sides of leadership, right? They were really good at Catholic leadership. They were really good at the spiritual side, right? They cared about their students, in this case the parishioners. They cared deeply about the faith of those around them. They had a very rich spiritual depth. But then also, they were really successful business managers. Particularly Father Mike, Father David, that wasn't his strength, but he recognized it and he brought people in to handle that in the pieces that he couldn't.
Dan Thimons: You know, that's been my experience with Archbishop Schnurr in Cincinnati. He calls himself the maestro of the orchestra, so he realizes his strengths and weaknesses and he surrounds himself.
AggieRobison: Um, and I thought that that was both. You know, looking back on it, I can see it now and really, you know?
AggieRobison: Yeah, yes.
Dan Thimons: With people who are really professionals in their respective areas, and then he keeps the Symphony playing in concert. So it's really neat to work for him.
AggieRobison: That's funny. I literally watched the episode of Seinfeld yesterday called "The Maestro" where Elaine is dating this guy, and he insists on being called Maestro. Anyway, it's Seinfeld, so it's absolutely ridiculous and hilarious at the same time. So anyways, I don't know if Archbishop Schnurr -- I don't know if that was his desire at all, but...
Dan Thimons: So, Archbishop Schnurr, if you're listening, you're asking him to make sure he looks up "The Maestro" on Seinfeld.
AggieRobison: [laughs] And hilarious at the same time. So, anyways, I don't know if Archbishop Schnurr has seen that episode.
AggieRobison: Alright, question number six. What's something interesting about you that people may not know? And I think we're on...
Tom Thimons: Okay.
AggieRobison: Tom first for this one?
Tom Thimons: Right, yeah. So, something really interesting and fun. Thinking about this, I come back to a time when I think I was in college. Dan, you might have just graduated college. On a whim, literally on a whim, we decided to drive across the country to the Grand Canyon. You know, we're from Pittsburgh...
41:37.73 Dan Thimons: This was before GPS, so we pulled out a map of the United States and literally drew our route on the-
41:46.17 aggierobison: Ice.
41:51.30 Tom Thimons: So, yeah, from Pittsburgh, so it's not around the block sort of drive, and we didn't... I don't think we may have had a cell phone. I don't even know if it worked or anything. It was a flip phone or something. Our parents just let us loose, and it was just an incredible journey. Something that we, I know, we've been wanting to relive now that we have children of our own. But, yeah, we learned a lot just about the country, the beauty of the country, and each other, really. I think that helped form a great bond between us. But, yeah, that was just something that I'd highly recommend. However, I think Dan and I both agree, when we got to The Grand Canyon, we were very disappointed because it looks exactly like the pictures.
42:47.15 aggierobison: Ah, did you go out on, like, the glass walkway where you can see straight down below your feet, that-
42:53.91 Tom Thimons: No, we, we, we hunkered down a little bit. Um, and literally, I think we were there for maybe, like, what, Dan? Four hours, maybe?
42:55.24 Dan Thimons: We got to the sign that said "don't go past this point in one day," and, you know, you don't go past that and turn around because you're gonna die. So we walked ten feet past the sign and then turned around, and we're still here, too, so it was still here to help.
43:11.58 Aggie Robinson: Ah, rebels. I love it.
43:14.39 Tom Thimons: Yeah, we turned around and we literally drove back. We drove back the day that we got there and we're like, "We accomplished it. We did it." You know, and so, but yeah, I think, you know, as a kind of looking, you know, at life and in general, it's like, hey, if you've got goals and if you've got things that you want to do, um, right? Yeah, YOLO, right? So just go out there and do it. You know, like, what are we afraid of? I was at a conference recently with Dr. Scott Hahn, and he said, "If you had no fear of failure, what would you do for the Lord?" And that hit me so hard, and it's kind of that correlation even with that, like, what is holding you back? Um, so anyway.
43:50.60 Tom Thimons: And that's my story.
44:23.37 Aggie Robinson: Probably about 2 hours from Phoenix up to the Grand Canyon, and I thought if I can make it there, I can make it back. Well, I didn't consider getting to the front, like, the gatehouse, alright? The ranger house was where the map took you, and then I sat in that line for 30 minutes because it was a busy day. And then I parked, so like, literally, by the time I got out of my car, I was speed-walking to the first, you know, photo spot. I had to kind of fight my way through the 40 people out on this ledge that's designed for, you know, probably 30, 38, and like, yeah, I kind of weave my way to the end. I take a picture, and then I'm like, "Alright, that was beautiful Grand Canyon. I don't even have time to, like, be disappointed with what it looked like. I was like, "Well, got to get back." So I book it back to the car, book it back, and I, like, you know, drive into the airport and roll into my gate as they're calling the flight, so it was...
45:04.67 Tom Thimons: Um...
45:20.87 Dan Thimons: Well, something interesting. I once won honorable mention in a recipe contest.
45:21.24 Aggie Robinson: A similar experience. But anyways, yeah, Dan, how about you? What's something interesting about you that people may not know?
45:22.53 Tom Thimons: Awesome.
45:32.22 Dan Thimons: Cooking a recipe. Oh, you have to ask? Ah, um, cottage cheese peach boats. So, you cut the peach in half, take out the pit, you fill the half with cottage cheese, float it in a bowl of water. Enjoy.
45:33.30 Aggie Robinson: Ah, this was cooking the recipe or providing the recipe? Okay, what was your recipe?
45:48.23 Aggie Robinson: Yes, yes.
45:49.90 Dan Thimons: Repeat.
45:54.67 Aggie Robinson: So, is it like what, junior year of high school? What are we talking about here?
45:56.98 Dan Thimons: Now, this was probably ten years ago, but ah, I was just goofing off, and, well, deserved the honorable mention.
46:03.42 aggierobison: Okay, that's awesome. Honorable mention, that's proud, I should be proud. Yeah, I love that, that's great. I'm gonna go home and make some beach boats tonight. Can you, ah, cheese?
46:12.36 Dan Thimons: I've actually never tried it. I just wrote it on a piece of paper, so I don't know if it works. I don't know if peaches float or sink. But you can try that, sure, and I guess anyone that was listening, you want to? um.
46:12.85 Tom Thimons: I didn't know that. Ah.
46:21.10 aggierobison: Can you send me the recipe because I want to make sure that I follow it exactly as you laid it out? The.
46:28.29 Dan Thimons: Rewind and then get out a pen on a paper and write that number. Be great.
46:31.84 aggierobison: Exactly, heck, and we'll put it in the show notes. How about that? Here's an honorable mention recipe. Last question, Dan, what is one book you think everyone should read?
46:35.57 Tom Thimons: Ah, there we go. But.
46:39.98 Dan Thimons: While okay, the softball at the end. Definitely the Bible. Um, and if someone doesn't like reading, I hear there's a podcast. There's a priest in Minnesota that does a podcast where he reads the Bible in a year. Um, we won't mention who that is or the name of the podcast, but I hear that's out there, and this is a trick that people don't know about. If you put it on double speed, you can get through the Bible in half a year, yeah...
Six months I like that. I talked to somebody today, and she said she was on the two and a half year bible in a year plan so she's taking her time she is going have.
Father Mike Schmidtz talking really slow.
Wow She slowed down the speed I guess but…
But, he still sounds beautiful and brilliant even at half speed I'm sure no doubt yeah, something like that and Tom how about you.
It's a Minnesota accent.
Ah, one book that I always go back to?I first read it in high school and I just think it's a work of art. It's beautiful. It's um, yeah, a must read, especially for Catholic men out there classic St. Augustine's Confessions, just a fantastic book. Um, it's been a few years since I've read it, but just you know, really really incredible and the english translation is even good. But I guess the original Latin was written as a poem or something like that. Um. So I haven't learned Latin yet and to read it in its full beauty but definitely a book I'd recommend if someone listening has not read it yet.
Well maybe you can convince Father Mike to read it in Latin and teach you at the same time over the course of a year there you go yeah confessions in a year great well I ah do appreciate that if people want to…
Get a hold of you or learn more about my Catholic will where do they go?
Right? My my catholicwill.com easiest way to get a hold of us. Ah all the information you need there. There's links to our Linkedin please reach out to us. Ah, you know one thing we love is just talking to great people who work for great organizations. So don't be shy, please reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you. Um, and tell you all about our product.
Fantastic anything to add to that Dan.
No, that's about it. My Catholic will dot Com Everything's there so look. It's up. We're looking forward to speaking with you. Tell us that we um, tell us that you saw that you heard us on this podcast and you will get.
You get? you'll get a gift card to Panera maybe maybe.
A swift kick in the pants right? They whatever is left after your God for son went there right? Great, perfect.
Don't promise there. We got a gift card to Panera. I like it.
Yeah, that's true, $2 and ¢28
Dan Tom it's been a pleasure. I so really appreciate this and I appreciate the work that you guys are doing and for all those that are listening thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoyed this conversation and I hope you check out mikeathicual.com and as always if you have any questions for us. You can reach out at podcast patresvement.com um, but as always god bless god bless you god bless your work and we'll see you next time.
Thank you Andrew I was.
Thank you God bless.
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