At the Alchemia Group we are helping our clients think & act differently in regards to their wealth and its impact on thier family - because we know it is more than just numbers and plans, it's the Balance of Art & Science with Pragmatism and Vision.
I recently led a discussion group at a conference for philanthropic advisors. The topic was the philanthropic conversations that occur between families and their advisors. One advisor said he has a hard time getting a second meeting after his initial conversation about ‘unleashing the family’s philanthropic power’. I commented that philanthropy in all its forms is just another tool. Oh boy did I get a reaction for that one! It bordered on a ‘tar and feathering’. Over half the group began talking about how special philanthropy is, all the wonderful things it does etc…which are all true. My point is that empowered philanthropy like any other strategy, device or tool for deploying or preserving capital is a tool to help a family or individual achieve important goals. It all begins with Why.
In the case of philanthropy instead of starting with who to give to I suggest first uncovering what you care about. What do you want to see more of in the world? What do you want to see less of in the world? Daily newspapers and news magazine are great places to start this research. Other questions like ‘What do you want to be sure is sustained for your grandchildren?’ and ‘ What do you care about passionately?’ can also be helpful. Once you have a list you can then ask ‘What are the most effective ways I can contribute to these?’ Philanthropy is often times the answer. It is the tool to help you achieve this area of your goals.
To carry the process out you could go to the local community foundation with your list and ask about local organizations working on these issues. Or you could use a tool like CharityNavigator.org to do a ‘deeper dive’.
It is the same with all wealth planning strategies. They are tools to be used wisely and skillfully in the service of helping you achieve your highest objectives.