Today, I presented as part of an exceptional panel of professional advisors in philanthropy at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, South Saskatchewan chapter in Regina. ("Exceptional" here categorizes my colleagues!)
We looked at Financial Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management and Gift Planning in light of the current turbulent economic situation.
Donors are getting smarter as investors in the social-profit industry. They want their advisors to be knowledgeable about the topic and to discuss giving with them.
The giving discussion, whether it be with the estate planner or the development officer has to be values-based and put the donor-client at the centre. The economic climate means that fewer Canadians are giving, though the ones that are engaged are giving larger sums - this is the time to start providing them with greater opportunities to become partners in charitable missions rather than expecting they participate as checking accounts for non-profit projects.
Everyone involved in the process of managing and distributing wealth is responsible for ensuring that the right questions are being asked - both when it comes to the client's needs and when it comes to understanding what it means to invest for oneself, to invest for others and to invest in others.
What has changed, in my view, is that the timing to adjust how we market as fundraisers and re-align our values has become more urgent.
To summarize one comment from the audience: How do we advise clients when charities seem to proliferate so quickly, with so little regulation from CRA, and with insufficient information provided to help the public understand what differentiates one from another?
The third-sector is a free-market economy - there is no reason that the charity that exists today will necessarily exist tomorrow. These aren't permanent government programs or ministries.
In a tighter giving market, the organizations who rise to the occasion and differentiate themselves by meeting the public's demands for transparency, accountability and a vision for a better future will thrive and those who do not respond to the challenge, will not.
This is a good thing.
As they say in Latin, O Felix Culpa! that the economic downturn has brought about an opportunity for Canadian charities to begin innovating how they reach out to the public for support - I see amazing examples of organizations who get it right each day and it inspires me to keep working to help charities ask better and donors give smarter!
If you are looking for more information about the state of giving in North America, Gift Planning and the new culture of philanthropy, check out my new web-resource page created specifically for this event here.
If you were at the talk (or even if you weren't present) your comments here are quite welcome and I hope you'll consider continuing the conversation on this space!