For socially conscious couple, Charitable Gift Annuity is rewarding way to give back

Aug. 9, 2019 — Veteran radio journalist Vicki Lofquist ’71 remembers the first feminist consciousness-raising session that she attended at Grinnell College. A second-year student from Des Moines in the autumn of 1968, Lofquist and a dozen or so others gathered to share their experiences as women and figure out how to change and improve their status.

It was a move that launched what eventually became an award-winning, two-decade career in public radio. “My senior year,” explains Lofquist, who was a philosophy major, “my friend Lorrie Buchanan Alves ’73 and I saw a need for more women to be on the campus radio station, so we stepped up and did a show.”

Lofquist went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism at University of Minnesota, then worked for most of 20 years at a public radio station based on the campus. Her reports often focused on trailblazing women around the globe.

Today she is still an activist, though in a slightly different way. She and her husband, photographer Craig Thiesen, have become a huge proponent of socially responsible investing in retirement.

Vicki Lofquist ’71 and Craig Thiesen
Vicki Lofquist ’71 and Craig Thiesen

Last year, the St. Paul, Minnesota, couple gave money to Grinnell through a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). The cash they donate gives them a charitable deduction and the College, which invests the money, sends quarterly payments to Lofquist and Thiesen for the rest of their lives.

“It’s an easy way to give, yet a lot of people don’t know about it,” says Lofquist, who learned about CGAs during her time working at several nonprofit organizations and as the alumni relations and annual fund director for Metropolitan State University.

The funds she and Craig gave are unrestricted and undesignated, meaning the College can use them wherever the need is greatest – which is exactly Lofquist’s preference.

“If you’re looking for a revenue stream in retirement, this is a great way to create that stream and be charitable at the same time,” Lofquist says. “And unlike the stock market, we know what it’s supporting, plus it’s not volatile.”

Lofquist, who received a scholarship when she attended Grinnell, is a big supporter of the College’s need-blind admissions policy. “That’s particularly why I want to be charitable to Grinnell. Alumni need to step up their giving in order to provide need-blind admission in a sustainable way, so I’m hoping our CGA can be part of that effort.”

Though Lofquist and Thiesen are retired, they are still active in Minnesota-area Grinnell events, as well as in arts and journalism. Lofquist, whose radio reports and documentaries were broadcast by NPR, Public Radio International, and the BBC throughout her career, is working on an investigative memoir about her great-uncle Romanzo Adams, the namesake for a race relations institute in Hawai`i. Thiesen continues to work in photography.

“When I was a reporter I had different beats, and my liberal arts education gave me the ability to be conversant in a number of areas,” Lofquist says. “I want to continue to support Grinnell’s efforts with this CGA and I want to encourage others to look into this as well. It’s an important and easy way to give.”

—by Anne Stein ’84


For your information:

A Charitable Gift Annuity is one of many planned giving options available to support Grinnell College. To learn more, visit the Planned Giving website or contact Buddy Boulton, Grinnell College director of planned giving, at or 641-269-3248.

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