The Case for Cure Alzheimer’s Fund: Through the Eyes of a Seasoned Fundraiser Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Posted March 6, 2012

As a nationally recognized expert in planned giving and family philanthropy, Charles Collier has worked with hundreds of individuals and families to help them shape their philanthropy, make tax-wise gift decisions and deal with family issues surrounding financial wealth. Formerly the senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University for 25 years, Collier also has held development positions at Princeton, Brown, Andover and Dartmouth.

Joining the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund team

Two years ago, at age 61, Collier was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which accelerated his retirement from Harvard last year. Collier first learned about Cure Alzheimer’s Fund when he sent out his retirement notice to his clients, including Fund founders Phyllis and Jerry Rappaport. Says Collier, “Phyllis immediately called me and said, in her wonderful way, you’ve got to meet the people at Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.” He had known Henry McCance from Harvard already, but when Collier attended the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund symposium in October, he decided he wanted to get involved with the organization. “Henry and Phyllis are remarkable people who get things done,” he says. “I knew then that I needed to understand more about how Cure Alzheimer’s Fund supports important research that can make a difference to someone with Alzheimer’s, no matter what stage they are in, because that’s me.” Since then, Collier has focused his efforts on helping to support Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s fundraising efforts. He was recently interviewed for a Cure Alzheimer’s Fund film, “Through the Eyes of a Seasoned Fundraiser Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” which you can watch here.

Collier’s contribution

Each year Collier’s functioning gets a bit worse, but he says, “I am a fighter and that’s why I chose to contribute my time, expertise and my own money to this organization.” Collier’s father left him a donor-advised fund, and he told Collier, “when I die, you can have what’s left of the IRA money yourself, but it will only be 35 percent of what’s left over, or you can use 100 percent of it for philanthropy.” So Collier made a significant donation to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. “I believe it’s critical to support the best researchers in order to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, especially when 100 percent of donations go directly to research,” says Collier. “Every minute a baby boomer is told that they have Alzheimer’s. The country needs to wake up and understand the urgency of finding a cure.”

The future

When asked how he’s doing, Collier says, “We’re all dealt a hand of cards in life. Some are good, some not so good. What matters is how you react to those cards. I’m supporting Cure Alzheimer’s Fund because it’s a unique organization that’s really trying to tackle the illness. And by volunteering, I hope I can make a difference.”

“As a thoughtful leader in his field, my father greatly values organizations that are founded on learning and innovation. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund is one of those organizations.” —Whit Collier, son of Charlie Collier