Advisors & Client Relations

The following is designed to help you assist your clients achieve their philanthropic goals and should they wish to be part of the giving heart of Coquitlam the Coquitlam Foundation is an excellent option.

Raising the issue of charitable giving with your clients can by deeply rewarding – on both a personal and professional level. Talking about philanthropy can strengthen your client relationships and make a difference in your community at the same time.

But getting comfortable with raising the so-called ‘giving question’ takes time and effort. That’s why Community Foundations of Canada created Professional Advisors eResource: to provide professionals like you with advice and resources about charitable giving.

We’re also keen to introduce you to the myriad ways in which community foundations are uniquely positioned to help donors make the most of their charitable gifts, now and forever.

Tips for talking with clients

Professional advisors are in a unique position to support their clients to realize their philanthropic goals by helping to design charitable gifts that can maximize the tax and other financial planning benefits. This site provides an overview of the variety of gift types that can be used by professional advisors to achieve that objective.

A relationship with your local community foundation provides additional support as they can share their unique knowledge of community needs and the national philanthropic landscape as well as expertise around updated charitable tax benefits and alternative forms of charitable giving.

Many professional advisors will arrive here searching for tools and resources to rely on when talking about charitable giving with clients. But why should you discuss philanthropy with your clients?

In 2014 a study was jointly commissioned by the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, Giv3 Foundation, the Philanthropic Foundations of Canada and BMO. It was called “The Philanthropic Conversation” a story of understanding financial advisors’ approaches and high net worth individuals’ perspectives. Conducted by IPSOS, the study found a number of important reasons to integrate philanthropy into your practise.

Ten Reasons to Talk About Philanthropy With Clients

  1. Proper tax and estate planning helps clients reduce taxes and protect their wealth
  2. Clients feel advisors who incorporate philanthropy in planning have a more holistic strategic approach
  3. Discussing giving priorities and tax needs leads to a better understanding and relationship with clients
  4. Being known as an advisor who understands philanthropy increases your credibility and reputation
  5. Advisors who ask about giving priorities and goals are seen as having deeper connection with clients, especially creating and maintaining a relationship with a surviving spouse
  6. As `fundraising` becomes more common in all charities and clients feel more pressure to give, advisors are seen as neutral partners and create a safe space for clients to discuss and consider gifts of assets and as part of an estate.
  7. In a client world obsessed with fees and cost, an advisor who includes the philanthropic conversation is seen as less about cost and more about client benefit and impact.
  8. Advisors who talk about philanthropy as well as give and volunteer themselves are a much more attractive choice to prospective clients. Clients are more willing to refer an advisor who is seen as a public leader and charitable individual.
  9. Many complex donations of capital or estate involved breaking down assets with other financial institutions and while some of the capital is donated, advisors who incorporate philanthropy in their practise have clients bring more assets into their book of business as a result.
  10. As charities raise their level of sophistication in fundraising they require licensed, expert advisors to help their donors complete gifts of capital and estates. Advisors who are seen as philanthropic partners are more likely to be referred to high net worth donors.

Community Foundations in the Tri-city are hosting information events around tax, planning and charitable giving. These are help once every four months and are called the Power of Philanthropy. Check out our events pages to see when the next one is or contact us.

For more information on `The Philanthropic Conversation` please visit the Canadian Association of Gift Planners website.

The Canadian Association of Gift Planners is an association that is a partnership of both charitable gift planners and professional advisors. They often collaborate with local Community Foundations to host information days on tax and giving. Find your local chapter .

When asked why advisors don’t bring up philanthropy more often, the response is that they are worried about wasting the client’s time or offending them if they bring up any specific organization.

Client studies in both Canada and the United States have high net worth clients sharing that they expect their advisor to bring it up some time in the planning conversation. The best way to do this is with questions and listening for specific opportunities.

In this section we share the reasons why asking questions of your clients is so important. Why ask. Whom to ask. When to ask. As well as what triggers and words to listen for that identify who likely has a need to discuss philanthropic planning.

One of the simplest and most important things you can do to help your clients enjoy the benefits of charitable giving is to ask them the giving question:

“Is there a cause you care deeply for or a community need you would like to have an impact on?

Why raise charitable giving at all?

Your clients are increasing their knowledge about options and expecting you, their advisor, to help them create innovative, comprehensive financial plans that take care of their families and friends, minimize taxes and reflect their values. Confronted with the task of transferring assets from one generation to another, people are increasingly choosing to integrate charitable giving into their planning to realize financial benefits and have an impact on their community.

  • Charitable giving can generate significant tax benefits in both annual and estate tax situations – your client may not be aware of this opportunity.
  • The ability to provide for a charitable gift often produces a deep sense of fulfillment and satisfaction – your client may be very grateful to you for not only asking the “giving question”, but also helping him/her to grow their personal impact through smarter giving.
  • Your client may never have mentioned an interest in charitable giving – perhaps due to a disappointing experience or to lack of information about how charities work or what impact individual donations can have on a problem.You can offer your client an opportunity to become informed without any obligation. The Coquitlam Foundation is uniquely positioned to understand both local needs and local solutions. We can help you serve your client better and provide timely information.
  • The media has painted a picture of philanthropy that is often out of touch with most Canadians. Your client may think that their personal resources are not sufficient to have any charitable impact. You can show your client a variety of creative ways to make a gift that is compatible with personal and financial circumstances and will make a difference today and tomorrow.
  • You’d be surprised how many of your clients are searching for a way to give back to their community, to memorialize a loved one, or simply to do good. Many of them are giving inefficiently both annually and through their estate.
  • You live/work in this community too. This is an opportunity not only to serve your client, but also to help your community thrive.

Who is in need of your help?

Recognizing that all clients can benefit from planning gifts in life and through their estate. Canadians who have been identified as having the most need for charitable gift planning are:

  • Unmarried individuals without children
  • People who are financially comfortable but do not consider themselves to be “wealthy”.
  • Married, with no children
  • Owners of privately held companies
  • Married couples who have independent or older children
  • Owners of appreciated securities or secondary real estate
  • Surviving spouses
  • People with an existing relationship to a cause or community organization

When should you raise the subject of charitable giving?

Your greatest opportunities to help your clients maximize the personal benefits of giving occur when they are undergoing major business, personal and financial transitions, such as:

  • sale of a business or other major asset (especially a secondary property);
  • estate planning;
  • readjusting assets after the death of a loved one;
  • writing or revising a will;
  • retirement planning; and
  • at times of a financial windfall, such as an inheritance, a merger or acquisition.

Circumstances in clients’ lives usually cause them to begin or alter their financial plans, including charitable giving. The following scenarios might signal an opportunity for a discussion about planning and how charitable giving can help achieve their goals.

  • Your clients tell you that they are about to take their company public, or that they want to transfer ownership of the family business to the next generation.
  • Your client tells you he wants more income from his stock but worries about capital gains tax if he sells.
  • Your client discovers he has a large retirement fund which his heirs will receive only some of.
  • Your client says she would like to provide income to her mother, sister, niece, or others but still benefit a cause close to their heart.
  • Your client shares that they are selling a secondary property like a cottage or overseas residence and that they would like to donate a portion of the proceeds.
  • Your clients asks questions about a private foundation which is an older more restrictive way to create charitable impact. Community foundations offer more alternatives to this expensive and time consuming option.

Source:Adapted from a document originally prepared by The Niagara Community Foundation and Huronia Communities Foundation. Used with permission.

Here are some pointers on how to effectively introduce the subject.

  • When drawing or reviewing a will, include the “giving question” as a regular item on your list of issues to discuss with your client.
  • In advance of your meeting, provide your client with a printed list of issues and questions (including charitable giving) to be addressed – this allows your client to consider the idea ahead of time and ensures that the question is not overlooked.

As an advisor you are eligible to receive free copies of Canada’s two resources to help clients consider giving. These books contain information on strategy, taxation and interesting articles about trends in giving in Canada as well as the listing of Canadian charities where they can do further research on activity, impact and financials.

  • The Canadian Donors’ Guide
  • The Canadian Book of Charities
  • Introduce the subject in a way that generates a thoughtful rather than reactive response, using one of the following conversation starters:
    • You are so involved in your community as a volunteer, leader (maybe as a board member of a charity) – why are you involved in this way? Have you considered including these organizations in your estate plan? Do you have a “giving goal” to reach with any organization? (ie. establishing a scholarship or academic chair, being part of a giving society or capital project).
    • For business owners: Often I see clients consider gifts of assets – as a way of sharing good fortune with those who have been less fortunate, or of repaying an organization that has made a difference in their lives, or of helping make our community a better place in the future. There are many tax benefits to business owners that are connected to charitable giving, can I share some of them with you?
    • It would appear that your estate will be substantially reduced by income tax. Charitable giving can reduce that tax burden and benefit both your inheritors and your community. Do you give to causes now that you would like to see continue in the future?
    • Many generous Canadians have significant gifts included in their will but won’t be able to use the tax credits for their estate. Can I show you how you can make some of those gifts in life, benefit from significant tax-savings and see the impact you want to make tomorrow, today?
    • Are you aware of the tax benefits eliminating capital gains payable on the sale of appreciated securities when you gift shares? Do you know about the major tax changes that will make giving private securities and real estate more beneficial after 2016? I can help you plan to have a much greater impact without having to give more.
  • If your client shows interest, but cannot make an immediate decision, include a bequest clause in the Will with blanks to be filled in. When you send your client a draft of the Will, he/she will have a chance to think about the gift and to talk it over with family or other advisors. It may also provide an opportunity for your client to make enquiries about particular charities or to seek information or guidance from the community foundation about local or regional community needs, opportunities and potential beneficiaries.

Try to determine your clients’ values and aspirations using the following conversation starters…

  • I know you are very supportive of [organization or program, e.g. , the local soup kitchen, your seniors centre, your alma mater]. Would you like to continue your support through your estate plan?
  • Are you making charitable gifts now that you would like to continue after your death?
  • Have you considered what would happen to your assets if your spouse or children do not survive you? Would you like any of your assets passed on to a charity, rather than to a distant relative?

Expand your clients’ thinking about their legacy to the next generation using the following starters:

  • Do you think your three children would mind getting 30% of your estate rather than 33% if you decided to give 10% to your favorite charities?
  • If your children were to write your epitaph, what would it say about you? Would it match what you would say? What would you like to tell your children or the community about what really matters to you?
  • You could use a quote from Warren Buffett: “Parents should leave children enough money so they would feel they could do anything but not so much that they could do nothing.”
  • The story of Alfred Nobel who the world accidentally thought was dead and in reading his own obituary was deeply offended and developed a plan to create the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Clients can be hesitant to consider charitable gifts because they are afraid they will not have enough assets for a secure retirement. You might discuss how much is needed and open the discussion with the following sentence:
    • If you’re interested, perhaps we could try making your money work better for you in your retirement while also providing for organizations that are important to you. A gift in your Will would also allow you to ensure you have access to your capital in life, and make sure it has charitable impact once you are gone.

If your clients are interested in including philanthropy in their plans but are unclear about a particular cause you might also ask your client…

  • When you lie awake at night, what do you worry about?
  • What values, activities and organizations contributed to your success?
  • At your funeral, you would like people to say, “She really cared about …”

See our “resources” section on websites and publications where donors can learn about charities both local and national.

Our philanthropic advisors at the community foundation are trained to help with this conversation, a confidential meeting with you and your client could help them distill their philanthropic intentions.

Source:Adapted from a document originally prepared by The Niagara Community Foundation and Huronia Communities Foundation. Updated in 2015 by Paul Nazareth of CanadaHelps and the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. Used with permission.