The Time Needed for Professional Advisors to Ask Precise Questions that Will Greatly Impact the Direction of Nonprofits
The importance of estate planning attorneys and wealth advisors having charitable giving conversations with their clients cannot be overstated. The communication between clients and their professional legal and financial advisors can easily avoid philanthropic intent altogether–that is, unless the professional advisor thoughtfully redirects the conversation in a philanthropic direction.
Some professional advisors do an exceptional job of including “generosity” language in their client conversations. Using some of the careful phrasing inspired by Professor Russel James in his research, The Socratic Fundraiser, advisors can use this phrasing to encourage their clients to consider how they may wish to make a difference for the future AND provide for their heirs. An example of such a phrase could be worded as follows:
Many of my clients like to provide a percentage of their estates to their favorite nonprofit(s). Would you like to consider doing something similar?
Ten seconds. Ten. That’s it! Yet, using a simple phrase like the one above can be the difference between making a positive societal impact… or not.
I get it... being philanthropic is far more involved than these ten second conversations. Often, a history of philanthropic intent has shaped the minds and behaviors of donors throughout their lives. However, making the connection between estate planning and philanthropy is often lost amongst our donors.
Ideally, all professional advisors would encourage philanthropy among their clients when developing their financial and estate plans. Unfortunately, that simply isn't the case. While great estate planning efforts are being made, client conversations that include philanthropic intent are rare.
Yes, there are clients who make giving to nonprofits a priority for their planning, and they might raise the matter with their estate planning team. However, there are also many clients who simply haven’t thought about giving from their estates. In my own conversations with professional advisors who are intent on asking charitably minded questions of their clients, I’m amazed at how often I hear their stories about clients not giving philanthropy a thought. Their stories go something like this:
As I sit down with my clients to review how they might wish to distribute their wealth, I pose the question to discover their interest in supporting the good work of their favorite charities. Initially, they might reply that they aren’t involved with any particular nonprofit. However, as they consider my question, some will ask me what charities I like. “Maybe we should give something to them.” They might say. Some even ask how much they should consider giving?
Right now, in estate planning attorney offices throughout the country, there are clients freshly considering how to make a philanthropic difference simply because they were asked an important question that took no more than 10 seconds to make.
It’s a common story. Moreover, it reveals a great need for development staff to cultivate key relationships with their professional advisor communities who would benefit from hearing about the good work and forward-thinking visions of nearby nonprofits.
Who knew that a ten second question could be the catalyst for significant impact! Ten seconds… to cause individuals to redirect a portion of their larger estates to further the missions of any number of organizations.