Laura Heintzelman
President & CEO
(231) 723-7269

Conversation Starters

How to Broach the Subject

Asking a client about giving might seem intimidating, but it’s an important part of providing complete financial planning and professional advice to your clients.  For a host of reasons, any informed advisor should be prepared to talk with clients about charity. 
How do you start?

In advance of your meeting, provide your client with a printed list of questions and issues to be addressed – this allows your client to consider the idea ahead of time and ensures that the question is not overlooked.
• Do you currently support any charitable organizations, including your [church, temple, other house of worship, or alma mater] either by volunteering or by giving financially?
• Are you interested in supporting those organizations in any way after your death?
• Have you thought about what kind of personal legacy you want to leave?

Introduce the subject in a way that generates a thoughtful rather than reactive response by asking one of these questions:
• Many people who have been actively involved in their community like to leave something in their estate plan for charity – as a way of sharing one’s 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. Had you considered the possibility of a charitable gift in your estate plan?
• There are other reasons as well to consider a charitable gift – tax savings, for one. 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.
• Are you aware of the income tax provision that eliminates the capital gains tax payable on the sale of appreciated securities when you gift marketable securities?

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 charity?
• 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?
• If your family were to write your epitaph, what would it say? Would it match what you would say? What would you like to tell your family about what really matters to you?
• 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.”

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.

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 ...”