How to begin a client discussion on charitable planning

Professional advisors often ask us for our advice on how to begin a discussion about charitable giving with their clients. We suggest asking every client the following threshold questions:

  • Are there charitable organizations that you support on an annual basis?
  • Would you like to include any of these organizations in your financial or estate plan?
  • If there were a way to shift dollars from taxes to charity, would you be interested in exploring the options?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you have opened the door to a deeper conversation that can lead to more meaningful planning and a stronger client relationship.

Some follow-up questions to consider are:

  • What are the issues, causes, and charities that you feel passionate about? Why?
  • How would you prioritize them? Why?
  • Which of your past charitable gifts have given you the most satisfaction? The least? Why?
  • Given your other commitments, how much time do you have to devote to charity?
  • What level of recognition and visibility interests you?
  • To what extent would you like to get your family involved in your giving?
  • How much wealth do you want to leave to your children and grandchildren? If there is excess, would you consider designating it for charity?
  • Would you prefer to give during your life or after your death?
  • What values would you like to pass on to your descendants?
  • How would you like to be remembered after you are gone?
  • Would you like to leave a charitable legacy to perpetuate those memories?