‘The best legacy I could possibly leave this town’

January 17, 2019
This story was originally published in 2019. Brad Currey — longtime volunteer, civic leader, businessman and champion for child well-being — passed away in January 2022. His legacy continues to inspire us and change lives in Greater Atlanta. 

For many people, giving to United Way of Greater Atlanta has become a way of life.

Donors understand the importance of that gift. By giving to United Way, you can ensure people in need will receive care and resources. But, you don’t have to just give to United Way while you are living.

Legacy Leaders is an affinity group that honors individuals or couples who commit to a planned gift through wills or estate plans. These Legacy Leaders are committed to building a stronger United Way now and for the future.

“They [Legacy Leaders] realize the importance of United Way being in their community, and they want to make sure that they continue that work,” says Eve Powell, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s director of Individual Giving. “That is our biggest selling point. We know that United Way is going to be focused on the most pressing social issues in our community. We want to make sure that there is a United Way in Atlanta’s future.”

Legacy Leaders partner with United Way to enable long-term community change through their endowment. Their gifts are what helps United Way solve future problems not yet imagined.

One of the benefits of making a planned gift are that you can save on estate taxes, which is a tax on an inherited portion of an estate, you can reduce and defer capital gains taxes and receive charitable tax deductions.

You can designate United Way as a beneficiary of your estate by will, trust or another instrument. It can be a sum of money, property or a percentage of your estate.

The most common way for people to give to United Way and become a Legacy Leader is through their wills, Powell says. Eighty percent of planned gifts are made through a will. She said life insurance and gifts from IRAs are also common ways to give.

Brad Currey has been a United Way donor since 1954. His first experience was with Community Chest, which was United Way’s predecessor. Currey worked his first 23 years in Atlanta for a bank in Georgia, and in his first year in Atlanta, the bank’s president called he and another employee into his office to let them know that they would work on assignment soliciting donations for Community Chest as a loaned executive.

“He sat us down and glared at us and said, ‘I’m sending you two over to the Community Chest to work as coordinators,’” Currey said. “’I don’t want to hear about anybody getting there late and leaving early, and when you get back from this assignment, I want you to know who [everybody] is in this town.”

The two men passed out pledge cards, spoke to different employee groups and visited other human service agencies. He worked for three years as a coordinator. He said he got to see all parts of Atlanta.

Currey gave to United Way by payroll deduction in 1954, and he has donated every year since. He most recently made a provision in his will to provide enough money for his pledge to live on after he dies.

“There’s nothing more important than giving kids a decent start in life,” Currey said. “So, I decided when I [pass away] I want my contribution to continue… I think that’s the best legacy I could possibly leave this town that has been so good to me.”

President and CEO of Wesley Woods Foundation Tracy Crump said she’s always contributed to United Way. Whether you make United Way a beneficiary of your 401K, include it in your will, or fund a life insurance plan, “it’s easy and gratifying to do,” Crump says.

“I am a long-time supporter of United Way. I’ve lived in several cities and have always contributed and volunteered where I’ve lived,” Crump said. “United Way is vital to the health of our community. That’s why I’ve included United Way in my estate plans.”

Conchita Robinson is a president of C Robinson Associates, Inc. Robinson joined IBM right out of college, and her first United Way assignment was as an executive helping with the annual campaign. She said each year her knowledge of the community and its challenges grew stronger, and she felt like United Way was one of the most efficient and effective ways to address the issues in our community. That’s why she chose to be a Legacy Leader.

“To continue to support the organization to which I’ve given my time, talents and treasures throughout my career seemed a logical step,” Robinson said. “For that reason, I included United Way of Greater Atlanta in my estate plans through a life insurance policy. This was much easier than I imagined to set up, and allows me to make a lasting and significant gift.”

By giving to United Way even after they pass, Currey, Robinson and Crump help ensure the people they have supported for all of these years will continue to benefit.

“If you’re going to include us in your will, then that means you like what we are doing, and you are close to us,” Powell said. “We are like a family member. There are lot of people that love United Way and want to make sure United Way is still around.”

Learn more about ways you can become a Legacy Leader by emailing legacy@unitedwayatlanta.org or visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org/group/legacy-leaders.