Creating a legacy through charitable giving

Wealth Solutions

Creating a legacy through charitable giving

How one Raymond James advisor uses donor advised funds to deepen client relationships.

There’s a tool in advisor Pamela Grey’s toolbox that can turn tragedy into triumph, and translate passion into positive impact: the Raymond James Charitable donor advised fund.

A few years ago, two of her clients familiar with her roots as a college administrator came to her, thinking surely she must know the ins and outs of 501(c)(3) nonprofits from her time in the education sector. They were frustrated by how complex an undertaking starting one was proving to be.

Pamela, a 15-year-plus industry veteran, remembered her Trust training from an event she had attended. Drawing on those lessons, she prepared a presentation proposing a donor advised fund instead of a 501(c)(3) private foundation.

“When I presented the concept, they were levitating off the ground they were so happy,” Pamela said. The simplicity of the donor advised fund “removed all the barriers, financially, emotionally and time-wise, and let them get right to the heart of what they wanted to do, which is make grants. … The tax benefits and legacy of giving that come with the account are just sidebars of additional joy for these clients.”

A powerful outlet for change

For one of the families, the fund was a way to honor the memory of their daughter, who was killed by a drunk driver at age 22. “As long as I had been working with this family, I had never seen them smile until the day they came to me about starting the donor advised fund in their daughter’s name,” she said.

She helped them settle on a name for the donor advised fund, which included “kitty cat” as a nod to their daughter’s love of her three cats. The fund was started with money from a legal settlement related to the drunken driving case, and in its first year, the grandparents of the young man who killed their daughter made a $10,000 contribution. “It became an outlet, a real turnaround in their healing process.”

Another client, a retired minister, used the donor advised fund to aid victims of war around the globe. Pamela has also helped a widow set up one of the accounts as a memorial to her husband, who died in a car crash. Another account was set up by grandparents and their three grandchildren, who were inspired to help others after one of their family members was pulled back from a dangerous path in life. “It has proved to be wonderful for them,” she said. “They are business owners, and they donate a portion of their profits. They’re even organizing a golf tournament to raise money for the fund.”

Igniting a professional spark

These experiences have inspired Pamela to focus more on philanthropy in conversations with her clients. “I’ve discovered how meaningful that facilitation is in moving from ‘Gee, I want to give’ to creating a lifetime of opportunities for giving.”

She has implemented a number of avenues for these discussions. The first is to simply ask clients whether they are charitable as part of her portfolio review process and adding that information to her CRM system. Once she had a list of these clients, she prepared a handout and seminar presentation, “Creating a Legacy of Giving,” and invited them to an event that explained how donor advised funds work.

And she’s not afraid to offer her services to anyone in a client’s life. “I ask if they know an organization I can speak to in the community, or know of anyone I can help with setting up a donor advised fund,” she said.

Pamela talks about her own charitable experiences to draw out other people’s passions, including a music initiative she donated three years of time and effort to during her years as a college administrator. The project helped raise money for women seeking leadership development. “You can’t be a financial advisor if you’re not a giving person; you give a lot to your clients,” she said.

Her top advice to other advisors? Seek out an opportunity to start a donor advised fund. “If you can do one, it will inspire you to do 10.”

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