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9 places to find prospects from the "old money" set

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Downton Abbey reminds us that hanging out with the old money set has its advantages. Are the Earl and countess of Grantham, along with the rest of the Crawley clan “old money?” Of course. As Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) said, “Your lot buys. My lot inherits it.”

Your local area has established money. It also has new money. It’s been said “Money shouts, wealth whispers.” How do you rub shoulders with the right crowd?

First, you need to identify the right crowd. Buy a book about the history of your local area. It will list the founding families. They likely have streets or businesses named after them. It’s possible their descendants aren’t rolling in bucks. It’s been said “The first generation builds the business, the second makes it a success and the third wrecks it.” (Attributed to Andrew Carnegie.) There’s a positive hidden here: Family descendants are often regular people living normal lives. They aren’t celebrities. They are approachable.

Where do you find them?

Start by buying into the concept that old money and philanthropy go hand in hand. Understand spending for the social good is a prime aim of old money philanthropy. Learn about the local non-profit sector in your area. Some Google research will identify the universe of groups. Each often has its old money patrons. They attend events. Here are some of the places to look:

1. Museums

They are the obvious choice. The annual report, usually available online will talk about donors and awards. You will see some of those established names as they likely attend these events.

2. Libraries 

Andrew Carnegie was famous for establishing more than 2,500 of them. Old money sees libraries as a path to knowledge and learning for the disadvantaged. Even today, many poorer American’s don’t have Internet access. That’s a benefit libraries provide.

3. Botanical gardens 

In years past the poor lived in tenement housing with little access to sunshine or outdoor space. There was a major movement to establish public parks in big cities. Botanical gardens are one of the quieter, often-overlooked types of parks. Wealth whispers.

4. Historical societies 

If you had to choose one venue, this would be it. The town has founding families. Often the Society is based in an old mansion. The descendants likely belong to the Society. They attend parties and events and they are often quite approachable.

5. Private clubs 

In the 1800’s, wealthy people gathered privately and drank with each other. The custom went out of favor but the buildings remain. Private clubs are struggling in many cities. They are often easy to join. Many offer reciprocal privileges, which is great if you travel. In addition to being around old money, they are a great place to entertain clients.

6. Zoos 

Another unlikely source. Once again, this was part of the effort to broaden the horizons of people who couldn’t afford to travel and see exotic animals firsthand. Zoos engage in fundraising, too. It’s likely they have membership tiers and events.

7. Hospitals (1) 

Old money has been endowing hospitals for a long time. Today they may be members of a health network, but individual hospitals still raise funds locally. The various buildings bear the names of donors. Commemorative plaques are everywhere. The local hospital often has a Women’s Auxiliary. They hold galas. It’s an expensive arena to enter. Children’s hospitals are also on your horizon.

8. Hospitals (2) 

Community health clinics. Providing medical care to the poor has always been a focus for old money. The clinic may be aligned with a hospital, yet it likely has its own board and fundraising structure.

9. Performing arts

You’ve always associated the ballet, opera and symphony with rich people. You were right. In addition to staging performances, they also have member events and hold fundraisers. It’s an opportunity to rub elbows and mingle.

As agents and advisors, we want clients. We tend to treat social events as networking opportunities. You will get to know a lot of people if you are low key and charming. If you are pushy and ask for business cards, a lot of people will soon know about you. That isn’t a positive.

Focus on getting to know people by trying to meet six new people at every event you attend. You want to communicate Who you are, What you do and eventually, Why you are good. You want to learn Who they are and What they do (or used to do until they retired). Where they work is helpful, too. Eventually you will know plenty of people in the old money crowd and they should have a favorable opinion of you.

Oh, one last thought: They know what you do and there’s no telling where that can lead.

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