Planned giving conversations: invite financial advisors

money_tree_smallBy 2065, it is expected that $59 trillion (that’s trillion with a T) in wealth will be transferred from the Baby Boomer generation to Generations X and Y[1].

Being a fundraiser, the first word that comes to my mind is “opportunity.” Specifically, the opportunity to capture some of these dollars for charity.

The second word that comes to mind is “How?” How are we going to ask, and how can we get help?

We all know the value of bringing family members to the table when large, planned gifts are being discussed with a donor. It helps build trust with your organization and, particularly for large commitments, the family must have a clear understanding of the donor’s plans. It’s also a great way to engage the family so that additional gifts (or even larger gifts) can be realized in the future.

What about inviting yet another person to the conversation—your donor’s financial advisor or legal counsel? These individuals may play a key role in the donor’s decision, but they are often not included in extended conversations with the family or planned giving officer.

A study conducted by the U.S. Trust on Philanthropic Conversation in 2013[2] found that only 9 percent of advisors are included in their client’s family philanthropic planning discussions, yet nearly half of clients indicate that they want to involve their advisors in this discussion. There seems to be a breakdown in communication, or perhaps, it’s just not the norm—yet.

This is where we return to opportunities. This is your time to become a trendsetter. Just by asking the question, “Should we invite your financial or legal advisor to the conversation?”

Beyond demonstrating that you are forward thinking, you will be in a position to deepen the trust you have established with your donor and their family members. You will also build a relationship with professionals who surely represent other donors who are interested in your organization.

Since the arrangement with an advisor’s firm may last generations, you’re also creating a record and long-term relationship that keeps your institution further involved with a donor family far beyond you or the current financial advisor who is at this meeting. Kids and grandkids may use the same advisors, and keep giving to your organization.advisor

Donor’s advisors also know their clients and family’s full portfolio of investments and resources. They are experts at tax laws and maximizing return on investment. Perhaps there is an opportunity to maximize gift potential that you haven’t thought of, not only with a current donation, but also a larger planned gift down the road. If you are the charity at the table with the advisor, you have a better chance of being the recipient.

Step one is to start talking to financial advisors directly.  They will be grateful for the outreach.  It could help them strengthen their client relationships, and we all know, relationships are what bring in big gifts.

Step two is to get more educated about philanthropic advising. Here are a few links to get you started:

Bringing your donor’s financial, legal or philanthropic advisor to the table means scheduling another person in and might involve a little more work. But the long term payoff for your organization could be significant.

Find more strategies for planned giving in our latest white paper

I also recommend downloading our white paper, The Next Generation of Planned Giving Donors. It details this shift in planned giving to Generation X and Y donors, and has recommendations on how you can broaden your approach to cultivating planned giving donors.

I am also happy to answer any questions you have or discuss ways you can develop effective strategies for planned giving. You can reach me by email, or leave a comment on the post.

[1] John Havens and Paul Schervish from the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College

[2]  The U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation, October 2013

Melanie Bunch

Melanie Bunch

Vice President and Senior Consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz
Melanie Bunch joined Ruffalo Noel Levitz in 2014 as a Vice President and Consultant in the Fundraising Management Division. She is responsible for working with clients to help increase and maximize dollars raised by developing creative cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for their constituents.
Melanie Bunch

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