The third year of a down market may not be the best time to suggest innovative ways for your clients to part with their money, but it's still important for financial advisors to consider charitable gifts as part of a comprehensive financial plan. Here are a few sites to help you get started.
Something like an IRA for charitable causes, a donor-advised fund can offer your client an attractive way to help a charity without giving up control of their investment. And for you, it's a way to help your clients do the right thing for their charities without doing the wrong thing to your book. This site, an online brochure for a company that manages donor-advised funds, offers an excellent overview of these types of funds and their tax advantages and compares them to other philanthropic options. Worth a look: a white paper on how financial advisors can help affluent donors. The paper makes a persuasive case that regardless of where equities are headed, there's a huge market of rich people out there looking for smarter ways to donate money. One interesting statistic: Although 85 percent of multimillionaires say they would like to give more of their money to charity, eight of 10 of the million-dollar-plus estates settled in the last decade actually left nothing to charity. Why the stinginess? Don't blame Ebenezer — the writers claim it's because their advisors didn't tell them what they needed to know.
The Planned Giving Design Center
Planned giving, which is geared to financial professionals, offers a wide range of news, articles and reference materials on planned giving. Whether you're looking for advice on how best to broach the topic with your clients, the tax implications of different gifts or the nitty-gritty details of a number of different philanthropic strategies, this site is for you. Sponsored by more than 150 companies and nonprofit organizations, many of whom feature the site's contents under their own brand, it's free to registered users.
Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving
Although this site offers a wealth of information, what stands out are two very simple calculators. One shows how much a gift of stock made through a donor-advised fund actually costs the donor, once deductions are taken into account. The other lets the user make a hypothetical donation plan. The modeling isn't rocket science, but it does provide a useful illustration of the advantages of making planned donations.
Is your client giving to a worthy cause? A quick look at GuideStar should help you decide. GuideStar is the Hoover's of the nonprofit world, offering reports on more than 850,000 nonprofit organizations. The detail on each varies, but financial records are available for most substantial organizations, including Form 990, the form the IRS requires nonprofit groups to submit to verify their tax-exempt status. In addition, the site features some good background information on the basics of donating money.
Philanthropic Advisors Network
If you're considering developing a specialty in philanthropy, the first place you will want to check out is the Philanthropic Advisors Network, a trade group for advisors of philanthropists. The site, hosted on a section of the Council on Foundations' Web site, includes an introduction to a number of different aspects of philanthropy, including how to start a foundation.