Professional Advisors and Nonprofits

Partnering to Make Clients’ Goals a Reality

People with resources and the inclination to be philanthropic to transform their communities often need encouragement, support and inspiration from those close to them. This can include their professional advisors and the nonprofits that they trust, who can work together to make a client’s financial and philanthropic goals a reality.

Although philanthropy can be a personal subject, discussing it can be a good way to connect with clients and learn more about their goals and passions. It’s also a way to gain valuable information about estate, tax and financial planning. Clients often say it’s enjoyable for them to discuss how to structure gifts that will help the causes and communities that they care about, and they greatly benefit from their advisor’s guidance. Professional advisors facilitate gifts by providing accounting, legal and financial planning logistics of how to structure and execute them.

Some advisors are uncomfortable talking to clients about philanthropic giving because they think that these conversations are tied to death, but many clients love to see the impact of their contributions. First, you can ask: “How would you like your retirement to look?” and “How would you like to provide for your children?” Then, “How do you want to provide for your community?” and “What are your philanthropic goals?” Advisors can talk about their own charitable giving to provide real-life examples of how their clients’ philanthropic goals can be accomplished.

For high-net worth clients, charitable giving is often interwoven with multi-generational planning. Luckily, financial, accounting and legal advisors don’t need to be experts in navigating these philanthropic conversations with their clients, but they do need to know about the various planned giving vehicles, and they can call upon a nonprofit’s charitable estate planning partners for help.

It is often beneficial for clients to come up with a mission statement for their giving. This will inform what is needed to understand and cultivate their charitable giving, the motivations behind it and the resources they will need to engage in strategic planned giving that meets their philanthropic goals and aligns with their personal passions.

Nonprofits can help advisors gather this information from their clients and structure the most beneficial charitable gifts for them in several ways. They can provide technical resources, such as diagrams that explain various charitable gifting vehicles, charts comparing options and personalized illustrations that can show the client how various types of gifts to charity would work for them.

They can provide a proposal that shows how the tax deduction and income payments for these types of gifts would work for the client immediately and over time. They can also provide bequest language for legal documents, which is typically the information most often requested by professional advisors.

Nonprofits can also provide continuing education about charitable estate planning and networking opportunities for advisors and their colleagues, as well as referrals to donors who might need estate attorneys, CPAs or financial advisors for financial and estate planning.

Conversely, professional advisors can assist nonprofits by providing tax, financial and estate planning expertise as well as various research tools. Advisors can serve as speakers for events and writers for their newsletters, website materials and other publications.

Professional advisors can also volunteer for positions on a nonprofit’s executive leadership teams and boards, especially the planned giving and finance committees. They can inspire others by being donors themselves and sharing about their charitable giving. They can also help educate donors and the public about the benefits of charitable giving.

When advisors notify a nonprofit about a client who is making a planned gift — whether it’s already complete or there’s an opportunity to work together to create one — this enables the nonprofit to do some stewardship of the client if they’re comfortable. If the client and the nonprofit can communicate, then there’s an opportunity to make sure that the client’s philanthropic goals are being accomplished and their intentions are being honored — even if they would like to remain anonymous with their giving.

There are myriad ways that professional advisors and nonprofits can work together and support each other’s efforts, especially in the service of a mutual client. By working together, professional advisors and nonprofits can educate the public, encourage philanthropy and transform our communities now and in the future.

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To discuss how to make your clients' goals a reality, contact me or your American Heart Association Senior Advisor.

About the Author

Bonnie Harris Hayden, Esq.

Senior Advisor, Charitable Estate Planning
American Heart Association
(310) 770-4565
[email protected]

Bonnie develops and maintains relationships with wealth advisors and estate planning attorneys to raise awareness for the critical work of the American Heart Association by serving as a knowledgeable resource of charitable giving. She is based in Los Angeles, California, and covers ten western states.