Getting Oriented

Know Thyself…and Others: Applying Psychological Theories to Gift Planning

Tammy Ozlanski
Julia Curtis

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.


“The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” Erik Erikson, renowned developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, was not a gift planner. However, his sentiment can easily be applied to a number of gift planning situations. In this session, we will delve into the world of psychology and apply basic psychological theories and techniques to the work we do as gift planners. An understanding of concepts including Validation, Normalization, Empathy, Attachment and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can provide insight into the motivations and behaviors of planned giving donors and prospects. The session will build upon participants’ informal knowledge of these concepts and apply them to specific challenges in gift planning programs and the donor cultivation cycle.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and understand basic psychological theories of human needs and behavior.
  2. Apply these theories to gift planning scenarios, programmatic decisions and interactions with prospects.
  3. Develop a plan to address at least one specific challenge in your current working environment by applying what you learn in this session.


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Tammy Ozlanski

Director of Gift Planning, Susquehanna University

Tammy Ozlanski is the Director of Gift Planning at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA. She entered gift planning as a third career several years ago, and has enjoyed applying her skills and experiences to the world of philanthropy. Changing lives for the better has always been the central theme and goal of all of her endeavors, and having the opportunity to do so at her alma mater has been a truly wonderful experience. Tammy’s previous career as a mental health therapist in a variety of states and settings has shaped her perspectives and approaches in the gift planning world. She has served as an outpatient and in-home therapist, as well as a behavioral specialist in schools and home settings. Under Tammy’s direction, the gift planning program at Susquehanna has had its most successful year in history. Tammy serves on the Executive Board of the Planned Giving Council of Central Pennsylvania, and is also on the Board of Directors for SUMMIT Early Learning in Mifflinburg, PA. Tammy has previously presented at the Case District II Conference on “How to Leverage Psychology and Analytics to Raise More Dollars.” She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from Susquehanna University, and a Master of Science in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA. She also holds a graduate certificate in Infant Mental Health from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, and has specialized graduate training in human behavior. Tammy is currently pursuing her CAP and CFRE credentials.

Julia Curtis

Gift Planning Advancement Officer, Susquehanna University

Julia Curtis is a Gift Planning Advancement Officer at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA. She came to Susquehanna University in May 2018. Prior to joining the team at SU, she worked in annual giving, managing the Phonathon program at a large public university. Julia is passionate about applying her previous career knowledge to a new area of fundraising in a private, liberal arts college setting. She has been integral in making effective changes to improve the planned giving program at Susquehanna University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from University of Rochester, and is currently pursuing her CFRE credential.