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Through the Eyes of a Seasoned Fundraiser Diagnosed with Alzheimer's

As the former senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University and 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. Two years ago, at age 61, Charlie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which accelerated his retirement from Harvard last year.

HAA announces Harvard Medalists

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has named Charles W. Collier, Ellen R. and Melvin J. Gordon, Harry L. Parker, and Susan S. Wallach the recipients of the 2012 Harvard Medal. First awarded in 1981, the Harvard Medal recognizes extraordinary service to the University — from teaching, leadership, and innovation to fundraising, administration, and volunteerism. President Drew Faust will present the medals at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association on May 24 during Commencement’s Afternoon Program.


Collier Conversations

Charles W. Collier hosts a conversation at the Harvard Club, New York, New York.



Charles W. Collier is the former senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University, where he served for 25 years. He also held positions at Brown, Andover, Dartmouth, and Princeton. He has worked with hundreds of individuals and families to shape their philanthropy, helping them make tax-wise gift decisions and advising them on family relationships surrounding financial wealth.


A nationally recognized expert in planned giving, family philanthropy, and family wealth counseling, Collier has lectured widely and spoken at numerous conferences for the following organizations:


  • American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)

  • American Bar Association

  • National Association of Independent Schools

  • National Committee on Planned Giving

  • Council on Foundations

  • Association of Fundraising Professionals

  • Institute for Private Investors

  • Wharton Executive Education Programs

  • Estate Planning Councils (various)

  • National Public Radio stations

  • Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).


In 2004, the Chronicle of Philanthropy featured his work in an article entitled “Gaining a Family’s Trust,” and he was named to The NonProfit Times Power and Influence Top 50.


He has served as a speaker and consultant for many institutions and organizations ranging from universities and independent schools to private banks and community foundations. Amherst College, University of Florida, Albuquerque Academy, Groton, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Rockefeller & Co., Atlanta Community Foundation, and Seattle Community Foundation have been among his clients.


Collier has published articles in Trusts & Estates, The ACTEC Journal, Family Business Review, Journal of Gift Planning, Advancing Philanthropy, and Gift Planning Today. He has been quoted in the Boston Globe, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Forbes.


A former member of the committee on Emotional and Psychological Issues in Estate Planning of the American Bar Association, he has also served on the boards of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, the Fessenden School, the Rivers School, Quebec Labrador Foundation, and The Family Foundation Advisor newsletter.


Collier is a graduate of Phillips Academy, Andover, from which he received a distinguished service award in 2002. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a MTS from Harvard Divinity School. He completed the postgraduate course in family systems theory at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. The third edition of his book, Wealth in Families, was published by Harvard University in 2012. That same year, he received the Harvard Medal, which honors “extraordinary service to the University.”

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