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Humanizing Your Financial Advice for Giving Clients

Humanizing Your Financial Advice for Giving Clients

The American College of Financial Services
May 12, 2020

Imagine attending a baseball game with someone who has no interest in the sport while you’re trying to sit back, relax, and enjoy the game. They’re complaining about how bad the food is, the noise level in the stadium, or how bored they are by the whole affair. Nothing can destroy rapport with someone, even a friend, more quickly than a feeling that their values and interests don’t align with yours. This is true of many things in life, including your clients’ choice of a financial planning advisor to help them with their charitable giving, whether it's to nonprofits or any other organization.

Philanthropy is rooted, first and foremost, in passion for a group or cause. You’re talking about what your clients love beyond their immediate family and possessions. If you come across as cold-blooded and calculating about their charitable giving instead of passionate like they are, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to win a seat at a big donor’s gift planning table. Charitable giving isn’t just a numbers game. To be an effective philanthropic chartered advisor, your client has to feel you care about philanthropy in financial planning as much as they do long before they care how much you know about it. But how do you do it?

The answer is surprisingly simple: be human. One of the most effective and appreciated things you can do is to offer your sincere support and admiration for your clients’ altruistic behavior. Say, for example, your clients John and Mary decide to sell their small business and donate much of the proceeds to their local food pantry or community foundation. Telling them you think what they’ve done is a great thing and that you’re honored to be a part of the charitable giving process can be the acknowledgement and reinforcement they need to create that rapport with you as a financial planning advisor. This can also help your clients avoid feeling “givers’ remorse” that some feel after they’ve made a big gift for the first time.

Even if you’ve never personally been involved in gift planning before, appearing to have an active interest in giving and nonprofits can foster a lot of trust between you and your giving clients. Start by asking yourself the questions you might ask them: what causes, nonprofits, or community foundations are important to me? Why do I want to support them? What impact do I want my charitable giving to make on my community and the world around me? If you haven’t gotten involved in charitable giving, now may be a good time to start! Do some research on what local nonprofits, community foundations, or other groups you and your family might like to support. And be willing to talk about these financial planning issues if your clients ask.

In a world that seems to honor those who have and keep money, sometimes conversations about giving that hard-earned money away can be uncomfortable, but if your clients see that your heart is in the right place and you “get it,” they’re much more likely to come back to you as a chartered advisor to help with their gift planning needs. Remember, in charitable giving matters, emotional intelligence is just as important as any other kind of knowledge.


A higher calling awaits.


Whether they’re high-net-worth individuals, boomer business owners in transition, or just concerned community foundation members, odds are your clients want to give back—and there’s never been a better or more needed time. But those interested in charitable giving need the expert advice, insider knowledge, and passion for success that only a trained chartered advisor can provide.

The American College of Financial Services' guide, 12 Steps to Position Your Practice With Philanthropy, provides these and other tips from our expert financial services faculty and thought leaders, along with steps you can take right now to help your clients maximize their charitable giving impact and secure their legacy, including estate planning.

Download your guide now or visit to learn more about our Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) program.

Invest in your career with a professional designation.

One of the keys to philanthropic success is proper financial planning. Through the three-course Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) designation program, you will learn how to help philanthropies maximize their donations and resources. The CAP® is designed for experienced professionals in both the financial services and nonprofit sector, and gives you the power to do more with your career.

Learn More