Starting the Conversation
Every client (and every advisor) is unique, so there's no one, "right" way to raise the charitable question. Here are a few suggestions for getting the conversation started.
Consider incorporating questions like these into your normal planning discussions with clients:
- Do you currently volunteer at or financially support any charitable organizations, such as a house of worship, your alma mater, or a local arts organization, social service agency, or civic group?
- Are you interested in supporting such organizations after your death?
- Have you thought about what kind of personal legacy you want to leave?
- What principles have guided how you have lived your life? Raised your family? Managed your business?
If a client responds to a question about charitable giving with a statement such as: "I want to leave everything to my kids," consider these responses:
- If there were a way to significantly reduce your income or estate taxes that involved a charitable gift, would you be interested in hearing more about that?
- If there were a way to leave more to your family by making a charitable gift, would you be interested in hearing more about that?
- Do you think your kids would mind if you left 5 percent of your estate to charity? Would your answer to that question be different if you knew your kids could be involved in some way with that bequest to charity?
- How much money do you think will protect a child's future? Two million dollars? Five million dollars? If your estate proves to be larger than that, would you want to consider making a charitable gift with the excess?
- What values would you like to impart to your family? If you could do so and only slightly affect their inheritance, would you like to see these values reinforced by your financial, estate, and philanthropic plans?
- What if your spouse and children do not survive you? What would you want to do with your assets? Would you prefer to have all or part of your assets pass to charity rather than to distant family members?
- Would you consider arranging for your retirement accounts to pass to charity as a tax-planning strategy?
To move the conversation forward, if a client responds to your initial question with a statement like: "I haven't done much before, and I just don't know where to start," these responses might be helpful:
- If someone with expertise in this area could help you identify some charities that are worthy of your support, would you interested in exploring a charitable gift?
- If you had to give away $100,000 by the end of today, is there any group of people, such as needy children, that you would want to help?
- What cause(s) would you like to be known for caring about and supporting?
- Are there “favorite charities” that you support each year?