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Giving Season with a Family Philanthropy Refresher

Giving Season with a Family Philanthropy Refresher

If you’re like most advisors today, you’re seeing an uptick in clients’ questions about charitable giving techniques that go beyond the nuts and bolts of tax law. Attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors hold trusted positions with philanthropic families to offer not only suggestions for tax planning in support of favorite causes, but also to be aware of perspectives that will make the charitable giving experience meaningful for all members of the family. Indeed, not all members of a single family will see philanthropy in the same way. Here are tips for working with three common points of view within a single donor family.

  1. Impact-focused. “Impact” is in the news more and more frequently. Family members who have a strong impact focus will be interested in learning more about how to help favorite nonprofits better communicate the outcomes of donors’ charitable investments. For example, a recent study by Oracle NetSuite, Connecting Dollars to Outcomes, uncovered that only 29 percent of nonprofits are able to effectively measure the results of dollars invested. News like this is very much on the minds of impact-focused family members. 

  2. Legacy-focused. Most families have at least one member whose top concern relates to establishing charitable values and passing them along to the next generation. Family members like this are no doubt seeing behaviors in younger generations that are different from their own. For example, research indicates that 10 percent of Gen Z want to start their own nonprofit organization. Keeping up with trends like this will help you counsel legacy-focused members of your client families.

  3. Investment-focused. Family members who are interested in the dollars and cents are still going to ask about tax planning, which assets to give to charity, and how to time gifts to optimize tax benefits under the current laws. As you address these issues with investment-focused family members, it’s a good idea to also share the perspectives of legacy-focused family members and impact-focused family members. This helps the investment-focused family member see the big picture and focus on the holistic elements of the family’s entire philanthropy plan. 
The team at the FM Area Foundation is your partner as you work with families and the variety of personalities that come along with them. We’d love to help you navigate family philanthropy dynamics through our expertise, including researching community priorities and important social issues, helping you structure meetings to ensure that all voices are heard, and working with you and your clients to build multi-generational relationships with nonprofits in our community that are making a difference in your clients’ areas of focus.

Contact, Greg Diehl at or 701.234.0756 to learn more.

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You have the power to make a positive impact in two ways. You can donate to one of our 500 existing funds, or you can contact us to create a charitable fund that matches your values. Whichever route you choose, we are humbled by your trust and grateful for your kindness and generosity.

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