The end of the year is a great time for reflection. Did I spend enough time enjoying the Michigan outdoors? Were old and new relationships made stronger as the busy event season descends upon us? The fall season is also a great time to look back on the last fiscal year at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
As I reflect on the last fiscal year, a handful of new donor partnerships stand out as especially meaningful because of the complexity of the gift. In those cases, our donor partners were supported by a professional financial advisor(s) committed to building strong relationships with their clients for the betterment of our community.
The most rewarding part of securing a significant gift in partnership with a professional advisor is that it feels like just that—a partnership. Many of the development staff at the Community Foundation and many local professional advisors have achieved the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) designation through The American College of Financial Services, a private institution based in Pennsylvania. The designation shows its students have the knowledge and tools “to help clients articulate and advance their highest aspirations for self, family, and society.” We take pride in our role as a trusted advisor to many community members who have big dreams for their philanthropic endeavors.
One of the readings for the CAP designation is, The Right Side of the Table, a book by brothers Scott and Todd Fithian, nationally recognized leaders in values-based estate planning. It states, “Successful advisors will embrace an abundance mentality, inviting additional advisors to the table to fill roles the core team isn’t suited to play.” It’s refreshing to have professional advisors who partner on significant gifts and embody this team approach. They understand their important role in the philanthropic process and encourage their clients to work with community foundation staff to achieve their charitable giving goals.
All this talk of partnership and mutual benefit isn’t to discount the complicated conversations that do need to happen with clients/donors when complex assets are involved in the charitable giving process. Things like privately held business interests, real estate or other alternative assets can provide bottom-line benefits, but don’t feel as simple as a cash gift. What makes the difference and eases the work is the trust and mutual respect built between the client/donor, professional advisor(s) and Grand Rapids Community Foundation staff. Together, we can facilitate a transformational gift for the benefit of our community.
As we move into another busy season in West Michigan it’s important to remember we are all in this together and working in the best interest of our donors/clients. Professional advisors are an important partner in realizing their client’s philanthropic goals, and are truly woven into the fabric of the Community Foundation as they help bring those intentions to life—making West Michigan a great place for future generations to live, work, and play.
Shaun is Major & Planned Gifts Director at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. He explores ways to introduce new donors to the Community Foundation through the creation of new funds and/or planned gifts. Shaun holds the CAP (Chartered Advisor In Philanthropy) designation from the American College of Financial Services and serves on the local boards of the Western Michigan Estate Planning Council, Western Michigan Planned Giving Group, and Rotary Club of Grand Rapids. Click here to learn more about Shaun.