When it comes to taking that next step and applying it to the model for change in the world of charitable giving and philanthropy we can see where the old adage “different strokes for different folks” is applicable. What I mean by that is, as stated in our previous blog – Can You Leave Your Entire Estate to Charity?different approaches are needed for different stages of change. That is, if someone hasn’t given much or any thought to how they could make a gift to a charity – how that would fit with their budget and how they would like to have an impact then what we need, given we haven’t given it much thought is very different from someone who is seriously considering how to give both now and in the future.

When we haven’t given this topic (or any topic for that matter) much thought (Haven’t Thought About It – HTAI) we need information. If this information is relevant to my values, & inspires me then I start thinking about It  (Thinking About It – TAI). That is my charitable giving & philanthropic planning practices.

Once I’m actually Thinking About It (TAI) what I need to do is explore the barriers to my taking action and the positive side of taking action. In other words, what will support and encourage me or you to take those next steps in our charitable and philanthropic giving.

For many people the positive side of taking action can start with exploring who and what has influenced you in your life, in the past & currently. What are charities doing, what are they trying to accomplish that aligns with what’s important to me?

For example, given the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre has an outreach program to support families who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis and given I wish my family had access to this type of support, I wanted to help provide this outreach to my rural community near Lyndhurst Ontario.

Another example from a client of ours who is now retired & was a Principal at a High School, when asked this question said; “if it hadn’t been for sports, I never would have made it” – that was the spark needed for her to incorporate a fitness program for at risk youth into her Will.

We have many more examples of having meaningful conversations with our clients that ignited a spark leading to hundreds and thousands of dollars now being left to their charities of choice.

It’s important to note that this process takes time, which is often a barrier to traditional Financial Advisors having these conversations. It wasn’t as though the client referenced above went from the spark to gathering the information she needed to making this decision in one fell swoop.   We needed to discuss in more detail the barriers to her incorporating this particular charity into her overall Philanthropic Plan as well as the benefits.

We will talk more about the barriers we encounter and how we address them in a future blog.  For now we want to share with you a few more examples of how this Model for Change has helped us alter many clients original plans to include Charitable & Philanthropic Giving.

You may be wondering how often we need to guide our clients through this process. 80% of our clients come to us in the Haven’t Thought About It (HTAI) and it is our job to take our clients to the point of Thinking About It (TAI) and ultimately to taking action.

When you look at this percentage and compare it to charities themselves, our assumption is that the majority of charitable organizations would see at least 80% of their donors are thinking about and most likely ready to make their gift.  Sometimes, as I’ve been informed by the charities there are barriers to donors taking action and we’ll also address this in our next article.

It’s very exciting to see this thought process in action while knowing that ultimately we, as Financial Planners have & will make a difference by the work we are doing in our practices by engaging in this process.

Rather than simply offering a “one-off” question – ie. asking “have you thought about if you’d like to do some charitable giving as part of your estate plan” – which as you know, in and of itself is not a great open ended question, it is a closed ended question so doesn’t facilitate dialog. When met with a “no” to this question most Financial Advisors leave it there.

An alternative, as mentioned above would be to start with an exploration of their values, who and what has made a difference in their lives.  This is part of engaging in the ground work that will ultimately lead to a meaningful conversation about this topic. This one off question, stated above, can stop the conversation dead (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Using the motivational model for change opens up so many more opportunities for exploration which ultimately leads to our clients taking action – incorporating philanthropy into their Wills, and considering how they are structuring their charitable gifts now.  We have many examples resulting in churches, mental health organizations, community foundations, donor advised funds, to name a few,  being the recipients of a substantial amount of money, that wouldn’t have gone to them had we not engaged in these conversations.  When I think about the impact our clients are having on the world I am thrilled.  Becoming the Guide in this process is incredibly rewarding and satisfying to see our clients being the hero’s of their stories.

Recognizing the stages involved in making a change – ie going from HTAI  to TAI to taking action provides incredible results. Adding to that an awareness of our role as Financial Advisors on how to guide our clients through this process can make a huge difference.

We believe it behoves us within Financial Services to lead the way! We are ideally positioned to do so. We can help support charities that align with our clients values, assist our clients in planning to structure their Wills and lives to maximize the benefits to charities while minimizing their taxes. Ultimately catapulting the impact that our charities can have, based on the work they do.

Our next article will address the barriers to taking action and how those barriers can be addressed.


Key Points to Consider:

  1. When it comes to motivation and change there are factors that support us in taking action and other factors that can get in the way of us taking action
  2. If we haven’t given a topic any thought we need something to spark our interest so we can start thinking about it.
  3. When we’re at the thinking stage a natural part of the process includes encountering barriers which could be our thoughts or other types of barriers that need to be addressed.
  4. The positive side of taking action or making a change also needs to be enhanced so the weights on the scale support the change side of the equation. The other side of the equation is removing the barriers.
  5. Going through this process produces incredible results that ultimately makes a difference in the lives of others
  6. As Financial Advisors we can provide additional support to charities by exploring our clients values, helping them find that spark that will ignite their desire to make a difference in the world.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. When you think about charitable giving or incorporating some type of philanthropy into your life, what are the types of barriers that come up for you? What are your biggest concerns/fears/worries? How might these concerns be addressed?
  2. When you think about the difference you could potentially make in the world, the charities missions and values that you like, what inspires you, what impact would you like to have, how would you like to make a difference?
  3. How could you go about learning more regarding the work of specific charities you’re interested in?
  4. In what ways does your current Financial Advisor support and encourage you to consider charitable giving? How has the option of philanthropy been factored into your overall estate plan?

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