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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Boomer advisors too reluctant to broach charity topic

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The United Nations recently scolded Americans for not giving enough to poor countries, but here’s a simple fact to make us all feel better; more Americans give to charity than vote. Even more encouraging, 98 percent of people with $5 million or more make regular charitable contributions (so much for greedy, fat-cat stereotypes). And with our reputation on the world stage taking a beating of late, this is something for which we should all be proud, says Kim Wright-Violich.

The president of Schwab’s donor-advised fund said too many advisors are reluctant to raise the charitable giving topic with clients, either because they lack the necessary expertise, or because they’re afraid the client will feel pressured.

“Advisors shouldn’t feel as if they have to be an expert in charitable giving strategies in order to speak with their clients,” she says. “More than anything, they should find the experts they trust and partner with them. They can outsource that portion of their business and still know the very best is being done for their client.”

And, Violich says, far from feeling pressured, more often than not clients want advisors to raise the topic. With so many affluent individuals giving to charity, it makes little sense to alienate the 98 percent for fear of offending the 2 percent.

“Most clients don’t think of themselves as philanthropists, but they want to give to their favorite charity. They want simplicity; they don’t necessarily want to be strategic in their giving. This is one of the reasons for the explosive growth in donor-advised funds. They’re simple, but effective tools. But if it’s done right, a donor-advised fund (like ours) can help clients become more strategic. Clients can be proactive in calculating how long the money will last and whether or not it’s really going to the places they want it to go.”


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