Backgrounder on professional advisors
Through their existing relationships with clients, advisors not only have specialized knowledge, but can help to set the wheel in motion for certain gifts.
For example, a wills and estates lawyer can draw up a will, a financial advisor has intimate knowledge of clients' assets and a trust officer is expert in the areas of trusts and foundations.
Professional advisors can have a very helpful role in assisting you with your program. Let's explore how you can involve professional advisors in your organization.
How Can They Help
By involving professional advisors at the early stage of your discussions with a donor, there is a greater likelihood they will feel part of the process. (If an advisor is not consulted well into a series of conversations, this can sometimes result in the advisor not being as supportive as they could.)
Level of involvement
Depending on the organization, this can range from informally calling upon someone for advice, to having a structured Gift Planning advisory group.
Who are professional advisors?
- Wills and estates lawyers
- Estate Planner
- Real Estate lawyers
- Financial advisors
- Trust officers
- Accountants (usually CA or CGA)
- Land Surveyors
- Assessors (art, land, other assets)
- Notary publics
- Life insurance agents / brokers
- Ask board members, volunteers or other supporters for recommendations.
- Contact the selected advisors. Does the person have experience working with charities? Is he/she familiar with gift planning? Is he/she interested in working with you? Can they suggest ways they can help your organization with gift planning? Are they prepared to help you learn about the procedures involved? Do they share your values?
- Meet with the advisor in person. Be sure you understand how future transactions will work, including what fees the firm will assess, and the time frame in which transactions can be expected to take place. Ask questions and don't be intimidated.
- Find out about their experience with charity law and tax law. In the case of stock brokers/financial advisors, also ask them if they have experience with accepting gifts of securities on behalf of charities and how long such transactions usually take.
- If the advisor seems disinterested or too busy to answer your questions, find another person.
- When you retain or otherwise name an advisor, you may be required to provide information on your charity. You will need to designate one contact person who is authorized to give the firm instructions on behalf of your organization (e.g. to sell your shares).
- It is important your organization is clear on who this person should be (e.g. Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer, Development Director, Chair of your Gift planning committee, etc.) and ensure procedures are in place to empower that person. Motions by the board of directors may be required.
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