For most Americans, charitable giving is all about making a difference.
But how can you make sure that what you give is really having an impact? And with so many groups and organizations out there, how can you direct your contributions so they go as far as possible?
These were some of the topics we wrestled with at last week’s 35th Annual South Florida Financial Planning Association Conference, where we brought together leading South Florida and national experts to talk about the cutting edge financial and investment topics we need to understand to best advise our clients.
I had the honor of chairing a panel on “Making an Impact: How to Deepen Client Relationships through Strategic Philanthropy,” with panelists Jim Davis, Esquire, a top estate planning and business succession attorney at Gunster; Nancy Reierson, CFRE, philanthropy adviser at the Community Foundation of Broward; and Ron Herron, a local philanthropist who supports needy causes both in South Florida and in New England, where he spent much of his professional life
Here are some of the main takeaways from our discussion:
The money is in motion. We are in the middle of one of the single largest transfers of wealth in history. $25 billion will be passed to the next generation right here in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area. $1 billion of those transfers will be to charities.
It not just about saving money on taxes. Attorney Jim Davis does advise clients on how charitable giving can save them money by reducing their taxes. But he says that for most people, it’s about far more than that. They truly want to use what they’ve accumulated to make a difference.
People need help finding the best way to give. Many of our clients need guidance with wealth transfers, since it isn’t as easy as it looks to give money to the right people in the right way. According to a survey by U.S. Trust, 90% of high net worth clients expect their financial advisors to ask them about their charitable plans and engage in a meaningful discussion on the subject.
For most people, giving away money is about having an impact. Fortune magazine just singled out Apple CEO Tim Cook as the world’s most influential leader. Cook holds nearly $1 billion of Apple stock and options. Cook told Fortune that “changing the world” is more important to him than making money. So what does he intend to do with his vast fortune? After paying for his nephew’s college education, Cook says he intends to give it all away, saying “he plans to take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.”
Through groups like your local Community Foundation, you can give like a billionaire. With even a modest gift directed through your Community Foundation, you can benefit from the same charitable expertise that billionaires like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg use to magnify the impact of their gifts. Zuckerberg believes in the community foundation experience and chose to open a $1 billion Fund at his local community foundation instead of creating a private foundation.
Your Community Foundation can give your gift wings. Here’s something new that I just learned. Your Community Foundation – like those of Broward or Palm Beach counties – can advise you about local gifts, but can also help you make an impact in other states or even countries. They’re charitable experts, and their expertise is at your service when you work with them. Nancy Reierson of the Community Foundation of Broward explains that their mission is to “connect people who care with causes that matter.” Their guidance can help all of us make the biggest impact with our gifts.