Starting the Conversation About Charitable Giving

You are meeting your clients in 30 minutes. You’re reviewing the file, and everything is in order; the estate planning documents are up to date, you have the latest investment results to share, and you are prepared to discuss the upcoming tax season and make recommendations. Pretty typical.

As you review the materials, you see the names of several charities your clients have supported yearly for at least a decade. This is an opportunity to add even more value to your clients, helping them unlock tax savings while fulfilling their charitable wishes.

Here’s a simple guide to help you through a client conversation.

As you work with your clients, we encourage you to listen carefully for questions that signal an interest in philanthropy: “How much should I give to charity this year? Remind me, what’s deductible and what’s not?” Call your clients’ attention to their charitable giving history. They might not even know how much they are giving or how long they’ve been supporting their favorite charities.

  • Gather more information about why the clients support those particular causes. Family tradition? Past involvement as a beneficiary of an organization’s services? Desire to impact a specific area of need?
  • Talk with your clients about their community involvement. Do they serve on any boards of directors? Do they volunteer at local organizations?
  • Review any charitable giving provisions in the current will or trust. Are the clients leaving a bequest to favorite charities?
  • Ask your clients if they’ve ever considered organizing their giving through a Donor-Advised Fund. If they are not familiar with Donor-Advised Funds, perhaps offer a quick primer and certainly offer to introduce the client to the philanthropic advisors at The Foundation for Delaware County. We are here to support you and your client through the process and are available to answer any questions that may come up.
    • A Donor-Advised Fund can be an effective alternative to a private foundation, thanks to fewer expenses to establish and maintain, maximum tax benefits (higher AGI limitations and fair market valuation for contributing hard-to-value assets), no excise taxes, and confidentiality (including the ability to grant anonymously to charities).
  • You might also mention that a Donor-Advised Fund at the Foundation is frequently a more aligned choice than a Donor-Advised Fund offered through a brokerage firm (such as Fidelity or Schwab) for clients interested in supporting their community. That’s because, at a community foundation, like The Foundation for Delaware County, the donor has opportunities to collaborate with other donors who share similar interests. In addition, the donor is supported in strategic grantmaking, family philanthropy, and opportunities to gain deep knowledge about local issues and nonprofits making a difference.

Our goal is to be a resource for you so that you will not hesitate to pick up the phone and call us whenever a client mentions anything about philanthropy. Most of the time, we can help you serve the client. If we can’t, we will point you in the right direction.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. We stand ready to serve.