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Ice breakers: Three easy openers to talk about philanthropy

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Clients with masks meet with advisor

Many advisors believe it's important to bring up charitable giving in client meetings, especially while updates to tax and estate plans are underway. Indeed, many advisors feel they have a responsibility to raise the issue. But how? 

Addressing charitable giving priorities with clients does not need to be difficult. The key is to be interested, relevant and authentic. Here is a tip for each.

1. Show genuine interest

Dale Carnegie’s maxim, "To be interesting, be interested," is good advice for nearly every social or business encounter. Especially with charitable giving topics, showing interest is important because giving is very personal and emotional. When you are reviewing a client’s tax return, for example, ask about the charitable organizations the client supports. You’ll likely be amazed at the richness of the stories behind each gift. 

2. Stay relevant

Tax reform is on the minds of many clients. This gives you an opening to talk about potential changes to the tax rates and what might happen to capital gains treatment. Explore each client’s balance of charitable interests versus leaving inheritances to family members. Charitable clients will be glad to know you are up to date on lobbying efforts of nonprofit sector leaders. Indeed, many charitable clients serve on nonprofit boards whose members also would find this information useful. For example, in its April 16, 2021, letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, the Charitable Giving Coalition noted that the charitable deduction is "unique" and "promotes a selfless act, incentivizing taxpayers to give more funds to charities than they would otherwise give."

3. Be authentic about COVID-19

Nearly everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way. Sharing your own experiences and impressions of 2020 and early 2021 will encourage clients to open up. Charitable giving is a natural topic of this conversation. According to a study conducted by Candid, U.S. foundations, corporations and individual donors stepped up by granting more than $10.7 billion as of early 2021 to address pandemic-related challenges. "There is no doubt that philanthropy has responded to COVID-19 on a scale not seen before," note the study’s authors. Inspiring statistics like these bring home the importance of charitable giving as part of a family’s overall financial and estate plan. And, of course, please reach out to the community foundation for updates on how our board, staff and donors are rallying to meet the COVID-19 challenges in our own community, including through our Community Response Fund for Nonprofits.

To learn more about discussing charitable giving with your clients, contact Laura Lederer, senior director of development and advisor relations, at 330-436-5611 or llederer@akroncf.org. We’re always available to answer your questions about philanthropy or to schedule a personal consultation with you and your clients – all at no cost.

Additional Resources

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.  

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