Your clients, your responsibility, your community

You + Your Community Foundation

We are here for you! In a special series of articles, the team at the Community Foundation will share with you the ways we'd love to work together to help your clients fulfill their charitable goals and leave a legacy not only to their children and grandchildren, but also to the community where your clients' families and businesses have grown and thrived. 

In the articles that follow, you'll learn why working with the Community Foundation is an important way for you to deliver value to your clients, fulfill your responsibility as a professional, and work side-by-side with the Community Foundation team as your partner in your practice and your community. 

Here's what you can expect to hear more about in the weeks ahead. 

Your Clients are the Priority

We understand that your relationships with your clients are your top priority. The key word is "relationship." We are committed to helping you build, maintain, and deepen your connections with your clients as their "go to" advisors for wealth management, accounting, and estate planning across generations. We will never create obstacles between you and your clients; rather, we are here to assist you behind the scenes or in whatever capacity makes the most sense for you to deliver value to the individuals, families, and businesses you serve.   

Your Responsibility is Taken Seriously

In today's social impact culture, philanthropic planning isn't just a nice to have. It's a must have. To fulfill your obligations to serve your clients, you need to know the full range of everything the laws and regulations offer in establishing tax-savvy charitable giving vehicles that meet your clients' goals. Our experts are here to guide you! We'll point you in the right direction to find the very best articles and materials to help you advise your clients. Philanthropy conducted through the Community Foundation meets the high standards of today's best practices for achieving tax effective social impact objectives. 

Your Community Foundation is Your Partner

We would be pleased and honored to work with you. Whether you're establishing a donor-advised fund for a private foundation client, setting up a family foundation fund from scratch, or assisting a C-level executive with corporate giving strategies, your Community Foundation would love to be your partner.

Do something good: Why community connections are now part of your client work

Today’s social impact culture mindset has infiltrated every business, nonprofit, and financial institution in America. The boundaries of our personal and professional lives are blurred across a wide range of social impact behaviors.

What does this mean for your work with your clients? It means your clients are walking into your office with "doing good" on their minds. You can build an immediate connection with your clients when you start a conversation about the ways they--and you--are getting involved in the community. Here are three tips for starting that conversation.  

1. Demonstrate that you are in touch with the wide range of "doing good" activities.

With the rapid rise of social consciousness, philanthropy is expanding to cover far more territory than just one or two ways to do good. Consider the full footprint of social impact lifestyle factors that make up the contemporary marketplace mindset: Giving to charities, volunteering in the community, serving on boards, donating necessities to people in need, recycling, purchasing products that support a cause, marketing a favorite organization, celebrating at fundraising events, sharing with friends and family, and caring about your own well-being. Ask your clients about a few of these social impact behaviors. This lets them know that you care about them as human beings. 

2. Be aware of the regulatory environment.

Many of your clients who run or own businesses are paying attention to social responsibility in the corporate sector. For example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an international standards organization that helps businesses, governments, and other groups understand and communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption, and many others. GRI represents the commitment of hundreds of companies to strive toward a common set of benchmarks to protect the earth and humanity. More than 90 percent of the world’s largest 250 companies are among the thousands of “GRI reporters,” meaning they subscribe to the organization’s standards for sustainability performance. Ask your clients about their corporate commitment to civic engagement. 

3. Show your clients that you are doing something, too.

Your clients want to know that you share their commitment to community. Give them peace of mind by talking about your own volunteering efforts, the boards you serve on, or the charities you support. Best of all, let your clients know that you are connected to the Community Foundation, an organization committed to helping people fulfill community dreams through the power of philanthropy. 


As a parallel effort to your professional advisor outreach initiative, consider encouraging your donors to make sure their wealth advisors understand their family's charitable goals. This video illustrates sample messaging.

Staying on trend: Why the donor-advised fund is a vehicle you need to know

The relatively new donor-advised funds are not only here to stay, but the wave of the philanthropic future .... Love it or hate it, the philanthropic revolution is on, and donor-advised funds are winning.
— Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2014

Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing philanthropic planning vehicle in today’s wealth management marketplace. Donor-advised funds have risen dramatically in popularity over the last several years. Total assets held in these vehicles grew nearly 12 percent in 2015 to reach $78 billion by the beginning of 2016. 

Donor-advised funds are popular because they allow an individual or family to make a tax-deductible transfer that qualifies as a charitable contribution, and then later recommend gifts to favorite charities from the fund when the time is right. A donor-advised fund operates a lot like a checking or savings account just for charity, and it’s established according to the IRS guidelines that create the tax advantages.

How can you connect this trend to your work with your clients? Here are three pointers.

1. Talk the talk.

Your clients are hearing about donor-advised funds. Make sure they are hearing about them from you! Whether your clients support a few charities or many charities each year, a donor-advised fund is a useful tool. Furthermore, the tax advantages set the donor-advised fund apart from other vehicles. Your clients will expect you to be knowledgeable. 

2. Know the options.

Donor-advised funds are available through a variety of providers. Community foundations are uniquely positioned to offer donor-advised funds with the inherent tax and transactional benefits you and your clients expect, plus the added advantage of deep community knowledge and a well-connected team of experts to enrich your clients' experience with philanthropy. 

3. Walk the walk.

Consider establishing your own donor-advised fund with the Community Foundation. In today's social impact culture, clients want to work with well-rounded professionals who are connected to well-respected community institutions. The team at the Community Foundation would be honored to work with you and your family to meet your own charitable giving objectives. We're always looking for donor stories to share with others, too, so keep that in mind as an option to celebrate our work together. 


Along with this article, consider offering the following links to credible third-party sources to reinforce your knowledge of philanthropic planning and connections to experts across the country. For example:

A free white paper generously made available by the legal experts who presented at the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning in 2016.

An article in Trusts & Estates Magazine outlining the advantages of using both donor-advised funds and private foundations in philanthropic planning.

A free white paper about the various ways a charitable remainder trust can be used in philanthropic planning.



Big questions: Why your clients are asking about philanthropy tools

According to the most recent U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy conducted in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School Philanthropy, 98% of high-net worth clients are giving to favorite charities each year. And they want help from their attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors!  

Unfortunately, only 14% of advisors actually offer to help their clients with charitable planning, and only 20% of advisors target younger family members. This is part of the reason next-generation loyalty to advisors is so low.

Philanthropy is a natural connector across generations. When you work with your clients on their charitable goals, it's very natural and appropriate to involve children and grandchildren. Philanthropic planning allows advisors to build next-generation relationships with clients' heirs while the clients are still alive and well. 

So what do your clients want to know? 

1. Clients want to be informed. Sure, they want to make their own choices about where to give. But they expect that their advisors will partner with knowledgeable experts, such as professionals at a community foundation, to help guide them in how to carry out their wishes within the Internal Revenue Service's guidelines.

2. Clients want to know what options are available to them if they want to give closely-held stock, real estate, or other hard-to-value assets. They also want to work with people who are watching the latest news out of Washington about tax law changes that might impact giving.

3. Clients expect their advisors to be able to get in touch with people who are up-to-date on the most critical needs of the community, even if the clients choose to support different causes. 

Fortunately, your Community Foundation is here to help! Our team can answer these three questions, and much, much more. For savvy advisors who work with a community foundation, the answers are just a phone call away.  


If you're not already using the "What is a Community Foundation" video, now would be a good time to start. It's a great way to educate advisors!

Fiduciary snapshot: Counseling clients who serve on boards

One of the most important questions you can ask a client is whether the client serves on boards of directors of nonprofit organizations. Not only will the answers give you insights into the client's community and philanthropy priorities, but you'll also have an opportunity to discuss fiduciary obligations when your client asks you for advice.

Your Community Foundation team is a terrific resource for learning more about serving on boards of directors in the community, whether you are advising a client who is serving on a board or you're interested in serving on a board yourself.

To get you started with information you can share with your clients, here’s a handy checklist of the three key responsibilities of board members:

  1. Mission. The board is in charge of making sure the organization is achieving measurable goals to carry out the charity’s purpose. Charitable status carries with it a host of requirements under state corporate law, overseen by the attorney general, as well as tax laws set out in the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, the board is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the charity’s programs are actually working.

  2. Leadership. The person responsible for the day-to-day business of the charity is the executive director, chief executive officer, or a person in some other designated position charged with oversight of the charity’s operations and programs. The board’s responsibility is to oversee this person, including hiring and firing the position. Additionally, the board has to govern itself and elect new members and officers according to its bylaws to make sure the governing body stays healthy and active.

  3. Money. A big responsibility of directors is to ensure that the organization has the financial resources to carry out its mission. This responsibility includes compensating employees, covering overhead, and paying for the expenses of the programs that are delivering on the charity’s mission. In addition, the board needs to be sure proper financial oversight is in place with all the right legal and accounting controls. Finally, most boards expect directors to give financial support in some form, whether that is in the form of personal gifts, gifts from the director’s company, or through the director’s own efforts to fundraise on behalf of the charity.

Fulfilling responsibilities as a board member requires a big commitment of time. For instance, BoardSource reports that nearly half of all charity boards meet more than six times a year, and 75 percent of charities ask board members to participate in an annual retreat.

Not everyone is up for the fiduciary responsibility and time commitment of the director role. That’s okay! There are other methods of serving the charities and causes you and your clients love. For example, serving on a committee or task force does not carry the same fiduciary responsibility that comes with serving as a director, although it’s still a big commitment of time and effort.

Understanding your clients' community board activities gives you an important connection point as their advisor, and it can open the door for community opportunities for you, too. Your Community Foundation team would love to explore this topic with you. We invite you to get in touch!   


Teaming up with your clients: Why social impact personality type matters

Each of us has our own approach to “doing good.” Each of us leans toward one of three Social Impact Personality Types: Investor, Activator, or Connector.

You'll realize it's a lot easier to help your clients with philanthropy if you know which type they are, or at least make an educated guess. That's because the charitable giving styles of each type are different. As you work with your Community Foundation on building philanthropy plans for your clients, be sure to let the Community Foundation team know your assessment of your clients' Social Impact Personality Types. It will help the Community Foundation work with you to deliver outstanding service to your clients.

Social Impact Personality Types

  • Investors prefer to engage in social impact activities that are independent and do not require scheduling dedicated time or working directly with others in the pursuit of a charitable endeavor.

  • Connectors prefer to engage in social impact activities that are social in nature, involving the opportunity to get together with others.

  • Activators are passionate about participating in the causes they care most about, and they tend to focus on “changing the world” and impacting one or more social issues on a broad scale.

A Few Clues to Determine Type


What an Activator says about giving:

  • “I want to be sure the dollars I am giving are making a real difference. I want to see impact.”

  • “I always devote the majority of my annual giving budget to supporting charities that are working to solve large-scale social issues.”

  • “My giving dollars will make a bigger difference if I am personally involved in a charity’s programs. That’s the only way I can tell if my money is actually helping people in need.”

Four Giving Activities Activators Enjoy

  1. Giving an increasing amount of money each year to a favorite charity based on the organization’s demonstrated results to improve the quality of life for the people or causes it serves.

  2. Giving money to three different charities collaborating to achieve a specific goal, such as increasing the graduation rate within a particular school, discovering new drugs to treat cancer, or rebuilding a community center in a blighted neighborhood.

  3. Giving to disaster-relief efforts after a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.

  4. Giving money to charities with the condition that the charity report back on the results achieved with the money (e.g., 100 meals were served to homebound seniors).


What a Connector says about giving:

  • “You never know when you might be at a point in your life where you need help from a charity. It’s important for people both to give to, and receive from, each other.”

  • “It makes my day to get a thank you note from a charity promptly after I send a check.”

  • “Some of my best friends are the people who work at the charities I support.”

Four Giving Activities Connectors Enjoy

  1. Hand-delivering checks to charities as an opportunity to say “hello” and “thank you” to the people working so hard to improve the lives of others.

  2. Giving money to a best friend’s favorite charity.

  3. Collaborating with family members during the holidays to make one big gift to a single charity instead of many small gifts to different charities.

  4. Encouraging children to add money to a piggy bank designated for charity and then mailing the money to the charity in an envelope with pictures drawn by the kids, or giving online with a credit card and emailing the pictures.


What an Investor says about giving:

  • “I always check out a charity’s financials before I write a check by going online to GuideStar and looking at the charity’s Form 990.”

  • “Our family considers gifts to charity as part of our overall investment portfolio. We are investing back into the community that has allowed us to be so successful.”

  • “Maximizing the charitable deductions available under the Internal Revenue Code for giving to charity is the big win-win in philanthropy.”

Four Giving Activities Investors Enjoy

  1. Structuring an estate plan to include several bequests to favorite charities.

  2. Giving appreciated stock to a charity instead of cash, to minimize capital gains tax exposure.

  3. Setting up a donor-advised fund to organize annual giving to charities.

  4. Establishing a budget at the beginning of the year to include a percentage of income designated for gifts to charity.


Embolden has created educational materials on the topic of Social Impact Personality Type. Check out the free ebook on our website. With your purchase of the Second Edition Content Capsules, you are welcome to make this resource available to your donors and advisors on your website, too, at no extra charge. 

Doing good and feeling great: Keeping up with the clients' mindset

If you have any doubt that your clients are walking in your door with social impact on their minds, just take a look around! Doing good is everywhere! It's critical that you're aware of this trend so you can maximize social impact as an emotional hook to build client loyalty and next generation retention.

To test your social impact savvy, try this pop quiz. 

Massage Envy, Macy’s, Best Buy, Vans, Staples, Bank of America, Ameriprise, Zappos, H&M, Samsung, Sprint, GameStop, Old Navy, and Humana. What do these companies have in common?

Here’s a hint: The answer is related to these charities: Arthritis Foundation, Clothes4Souls, Americans for the Arts,, Special Olympics, Feeding America, Best Friends Animal Society,, Autism Speaks, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

If you guessed that these companies are the winners of the 2016 Halo Awards and the charities listed are the causes the companies supported, you are correct! (Your social impact IQ is off the charts, by the way.)

The Cause Marketing Halo Awards are North American cause marketing’s highest honor. The awards are bestowed by the Cause Marketing Forum, Inc., a group founded in 2002 to increase successful company cause alliances.

You know a lot about cause marketing whether you realize it or not. That’s because the idea has steadily become a powerful consumer dynamic ever since brands began aligning themselves with charities to benefit not only the brand but also society as a whole. Early cause marketing efforts included the Marriott’s campaign with the March of Dimes in 1976, which was coordinated around the opening of a new hotel in San Diego, according to the Cause Marketing Forum. In 1979, Famous Amos Cookies launched a campaign with Literacy Volunteers of America, featuring Wally Amos as the spokesperson for increasing literacy rates across the country.

Since then, the techniques known as “cause-related marketing” and “cause marketing” continue to grow in popularity. The Cause Marketing Forum estimates that cause sponsorship will reach $2 billion in 2016, a 3.7 percent increase from 2015. In addition, 80 percent of global consumers agree that business must play a role in addressing societal issues.

Now you're caught up on cause marketing!

The point is, you can count on the Community Foundation to know what's going on. Staying current on social impact trends is our responsibility at the Community Foundation. We'll make sure you're informed about timely topics such as cause marketing, charitable giving, community needs, volunteering, and other topics of interest to your socially-conscious clients.



Along with this article, consider offering links to credible third-party sources to reinforce your knowledge of the social impact culture mindset that has defined the contemporary approach to philanthropy. For example:

  1. Blog posts, like this one, describing the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing trend which involves nearly $23 trillion of the world's professionally managed assets.
  2. This video from our gallery on the topic of "doing well by doing good." 

You rock: How your Community Foundation gives you star power

You know the drill. A client mentions a specific charity in the community and asks you whether that charity is reputable and effective. That's a tough question to answer! You're not in a position to know the ins and outs of how charities in the community are being managed.

Fortunately, the team at the Community Foundation can help you. It's our job to know the superstars in the nonprofit community. There are very few nonprofit organizations we've not worked with over the years. So, when you get a question like that from a client, the first step is to call us! Your clients will be relieved to know that they are working with an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who knows experts on matters in the community. 

In addition, you can offer a client a few simple pointers to get started checking out charities on their own. 

1. Tell your client to consider the source. Your talk track can go something like this: "If it’s a friend, colleague, or a neighbor asking you to support a cause she knows and loves, you can be more confident in your contribution. Ask about the organization to find out whether it’s a fit for you. Don’t worry—you won’t offend your friend by asking questions. Instead, your interest in the cause your friend is marketing will give her a chance to tell the story about how that organization is making a social impact. Spreading the word is a good thing!"

2. Suggest that your client start with something other than money. You can say something like the following: "Giving money to a charity is not the only way to do good. Supporting causes includes a wide range of other activities, such as recycling, volunteering, serving on boards, donating canned goods or clothing, attending community events, marketing a favorite nonprofit, sharing with friends and families in need, purchasing brands that support causes, and caring for your own health and wellness. So, if you are uncomfortable with a monetary contribution, do something else for the charity you’re being asked to support. Volunteer for an hour or two, donate household items, or attend one of the charity’s events by buying a ticket instead of making an outright donation. These activities give you a chance to check things out."

3. Encourage your client to go online. Here's what you can say: "Of course, you should check out the charity online. Giving is big business, and charities today know they need to report compelling information on their websites about the difference they’re making with your dollars."

No matter how your client chooses to create social impact, every act of doing good counts, especially when the client is supporting the causes the client loves the most.

Finally, remember that the Community Foundation is here for you. Our mission is to increase charitable giving in the community, connect donors to causes, and lead on critical community issues to improve the quality of life in our region, now and in the future. We look forward to helping you and your clients shine!