The Nonprofit Sector Has Lost a Good Friend

The nonprofit sector lost an ardent supporter, and my wife and I lost a very close friend on June 6, 2012.

Lisa Halterman (1954-2012)

Lisa Maxine Reisman Halterman touched countless lives. We are all better off for the time she was with us, which was far too brief. Even if you never knew Lisa, she has improved your world in immeasurable ways. Think of a pebble tossed into a still pond causing ripples to expand outward. The impact of Lisa’s philanthropy rippled outward as well.

Lisa was involved with and supported a variety of organizations including the Please Touch Museum, the Rittenhouse Square Flower Market, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Rosenbach Museum, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, and the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre. She even hosted a special reception to benefit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Political Action Committee.

Though very different from each other, these organizations all enhance the quality of the lives of those they serve and, as a result, enable or inspire those individuals to improve the lives of others. The ripple effect.

Lisa’s philanthropy was generous. Parenthetically, and sadly, not a single nonprofit organization seriously approached her for a planned gift.

Only 22 percent of Americans over the age of 30 say they have been asked to consider a planned gift, according to a report from The Stelter Company. So, I’m not exactly surprised that Lisa was never asked. I just wonder how many other lost opportunities there are every single day? How many people are in your database that should be asked for a planned gift that you just haven’t gotten around to asking?

While Lisa was a generous philanthropist, she did much more than give her money. For example, she hosted dinners and events in her home to benefit the nonprofits she loved. For the Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre, she “adopted” one of the shows during a difficult time for management. She made sure the actors had housing, and worked hands-on to make sure the curtain went up as planned. The production was a great success and earned the lead actress a Barrymore Award, the Philadelphia equivalent of a Tony.

Even with her day jobs, Lisa was motivated by a desire to enrich the lives of others. When she successfully sold residential real estate, she was more of a matchmaker than a saleswoman. She found people homes rather than merely selling them a house.

Later, when Lisa served as graduate coordinator in the bioengineering and economics departments at the University of Pennsylvania, she helped the University recruit the best and brightest by adding her own personal touch to process. Prospective students weren’t dealing with some big, faceless institution. They were working with a caring, friendly, helpful person. Lisa even opened her home to prospective students to save them the expense of a hotel room during their visit to campus.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Lisa gained a new appreciation for just how precarious our fragile lives are. As a result, she was inspired to pursue her life-long dream. In 2005, she opened Lisa M. Reisman et Cie, a gallery displaying original paintings, sculpture, jewelry, furniture, Baccarat crystal, collectible posters, and art nouveau and art deco soap and perfume labels she had collected for more than 20 years. The gallery also specialized in unusual gift items.

Whether it was by giving her gallery visitors a museum-quality experience, providing her customers with beautiful items to take home, or mentoring her young staff, the gallery was just another way Lisa was able to help enrich the lives of others. Her accomplishments with the gallery earned her a Wells Fargo Second-Half Champions Award. The Award recognizes individuals over the age of 50 who have achieved remarkable personal goals, have made significant contributions to society, and/or are using the second half of his or her life for a purpose completely different from the first half.

In short, Lisa was a true philanthropist, someone with a love of humanity. And, she was everything one could hope for in a friend. She will be missed.

Life is short. I encourage you to let the one’s you love know you love them. And, professionally, I encourage you to ask your organization’s loyal supporters to make a planned gift. It’s one way they can continue to benefit others after they pass on. They’ll be glad you gave them that special opportunity.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

10 Comments to “The Nonprofit Sector Has Lost a Good Friend”

  1. It is always sad when one of our special philanthropists leaves us, especially at a young age. My condolences to the family and of course to you and your wife Michael.

    I will say this — I have been asked by several charities I work with to include them in my estate plans. The word is starting to get out there. We just need to encourage the charitable community to ask more people, more often.

    • Brian, thank you for your comment and condolences. While our friend’s passing was certainly not a surprise, it’s still difficult.

      I find it very interesting that several of your clients have asked you to include them in your estate plans. I hope they’re also asking their loyal supporters. You’re right, of course, that we all need to continue to encourage nonprofits to ask more people, more often. And, I applaud your own efforts to do just that. I would just add, we all need to ask the right people for the right thing at the right time. As Philip J. Murphy has said, “Get wild with planned giving: Think of it as fundraising!”

  2. Michael,

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend. My condolences go out to you and the other lives and organizations she touched.

    • Richard, thank you for your thoughtful message. When mourning the passing of my friend, it’s really about me and my loss. When celebrating her life and remembering her contributions to the community, it’s about Lisa. Though it’s difficult, that’s where I’m trying to keep my focus.

  3. Thank you for your touching thoughts for my Lisa. Lisa continues her giving nature in the Lisa Maxine Reisman Halterman Fund to support Drexel University Torrance Center for Creativity and Innovation scholarly activities (3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia 19104). She lives on in those who love her.

    • Freddie, as you know, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind message. I’m glad we have this opportunity to share with people that Lisa will continue to help others through the special fund in her honor that will benefit the Drexel Torrance Center

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss…Lisa sounds like an “anybody” friend…not too many of those left now.

  5. Michael, I am so sorry for you and your wife on the loss of a friend. It sounds as if Lisa had found the secret to life, and was trying to spread that wonderful secret by the way she lived and loved. The world will miss a person of her stature.

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