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Charitable Giving

Eight Questions Clients Should Ask When Choosing a Charity

Enable them to have an even greater positive impact on the world and themselves.

Most advisors feel that it’s not their responsibility to identify charities that clients should support, but in reality they can help many of their clients understand how to best vet and work with nonprofit organizations.

Everyone benefits when financial, legal and tax advisors engage in the charitable conversation with their clients and ascertain their needs and desires pertaining to their current and future philanthropic goals. Client relationships are deepened, clients are more likely to have the impact they envision, and charities benefit by receiving the support they need that can put them in a better position to help them fulfill their missions.​

Some professional advisors refer clients needing more assistance to philanthropic advisory firms. These firms strictly help their clients achieve their philanthropic goals and don’t provide financial, tax or legal advice. They may help with developing a charitable mission, involving the next generation in the family’s philanthropic activities, identifying worthy grantees, conducting site visits or assisting them in working with their grantees.

Advisors can also refer their clients to member organizations that have educational conferences and resources for donors, such as the National Center for Family Philanthropy and Exponent Philanthropy. Because the number of donor-advised funds (DAFs) has increased significantly in recent years, some of these DAF sponsors have increased the help they’re providing to their donors. For instance, the American Endowment Foundation DAF now provides helpful content for donors, as well as for professional advisors, and refers its donors to some of the leading philanthropic advisory firms in the country when appropriate.

Here are eight tips that advisors can enact themselves to help clients evaluate prospective charities.


This is an adapted version of the author's original article in Trusts & Estates.

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