Real Life Situations

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Below are some of the client engagements and issues we have had the opportunity to address along with a summary of the solution we recommended. In each of these circumstances, the donor’s philanthropic journey was made more exciting and satisfying with the right tools and knowledge in place.

What happened: Bringing new family members on board provided an opportunity to revisit the Foundation’s mission and goals. We interviewed family members actively involved and each of the next generation who had expressed an interest in the Foundation to get their perspective around structure, operational needs, and current giving focus. The findings were shared with the family to ensure the interests of the rising generation were integrated into the core mission of the Foundation. Based on the family conversation, we created an orientation plan for new board members and a succession plan for managing board attrition as family members age out and become less active.

What happened: We began by confirming the client’s passions, interests, priorities, and definition of impact. We then conducted due diligence on the organizations they supported, focusing on capacity, sustainability, and alignment with the donor’s mission and interests. We prepared a landscape analysis in their desired geographic area(s) to find new opportunities for funding and support. The Landscape Analysis revealed that the needs and approaches to the issue had changed. The donors decided to eliminate support for two organizations that they felt no longer aligned with the changes in the landscape. They also initiated a significant gift to a new organization that more effectively addressed the newly discovered needs in the field.

What happened:

The client had done very little in terms of charitable gifts except to their church or small contributions in response to requests from friends or family. Their attorney was setting up a testamentary foundation to mitigate taxes at death. In conversations with them, we learned there was a family history of early-onset Alzheimer and they decided that would be their focus. We introduced them to thought leaders in the Alzheimer’s community to explore ways to support research on delaying or reducing the symptoms of the disease.

We encouraged them to explore the opportunities we’d discussed during their lifetime so that they could feel truly comfortable about what their gifts after death would look like. They agreed and set up a DAF for their lifetime philanthropy. We gave their attorney a detailed legacy plan to incorporate into the estate plan that included parameters for the size and scope of gifts after death so that their trustees had a clear understanding of how to identify opportunities.

What happened: We explored with our client what he was most passionate about and where he could make a real difference and began putting a Philanthropic Roadmap® together that helped to establish key giving parameters: mission, geographic focus, issues, populations, timelines, and intent. We could then begin identifying opportunities within his geographic and issue areas and prepared a landscape analysis identifying pressing needs, organizations, and initiatives aligned with his interests. Once he chose a desired focus, we did a deeper dive and conducted due diligence to assess capacity, sustainability, and the organizations’ work.

With his personal Philanthropic Roadmap® and landscape analysis in hand, he could create the key indicators of success and begin making strategic multi-year gifts.

What happened:  The client had always been charitable, but the private foundation and DAFs had primarily been her husband’s. Her children were very interested in getting involved. The goal of the engagement was to ensure that the Foundation reflected the client’s interests and that of her children rather than what her husband had used it for. No one had made any gifts out of the DAFs and each DAF had close to $1 million in it.

We interviewed the client and her children to identify their philanthropy goals, their desired level of involvement, what role they might want, and their thoughts on impact and risk. It was decided that no one wanted to have day-to-day responsibility. They wanted us to serve as their administrative/back office and staff the foundation to support their giving. Each of the two children were given a DAF for their personal giving and we helped them develop a giving plan around their individual interests. They would also serve on the board to help direct the Foundation’s giving.

We provided training that focused on best practices in philanthropy and foundations. This brought the family together and provided a way for them to work as a family unit through the Foundation while the DAFs gave the children latitude to pursue their own charitable interests.

What happened: Since we are a pre-approved vendor for almost all public charities that offer DAFs, donors can pay for our services through their DAF account (just as fees can be paid out of a private foundation’s funds and applied against the 5% rule). This made it relatively easy for us to quickly work with a client who needed assessment and support for several community gifts they were interested in allocating – a college scholarship program, three general operating gifts to grassroots social service organizations that she had heard about from a friend, and a building purchase for an organization that became a community shelter. Over the six years we have worked with her, we nurtured these relationships and managed her charitable activities to ensure the efficacy and impact she set out to achieve.

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