Paul Cummings, Head of Family Office Services, Foundations, and Endowments at Fiduciary Trust International is responsible for partnering with professionals across the organization to develop and manage the suite of comprehensive services specifically designed for the unique needs of these clients. Paul is a member of Fiduciary Trust International’s Management and Operating Committees. Paul graduated from St. Lawrence University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and completed accounting and strategy courses in the MBA program at St. John’s University. He also received certification in trust investment management from the New York Bankers Association. Paul serves on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s board of councilors.

Russ Alan Prince: What is Fiduciary Trust International’s philosophy when it comes to working with foundations and endowments? 

Paul Cummings: At Fiduciary Trust we look to help build, inspire, and support our clients through shared learning and ongoing conversations. We understand each organization is unique, and how the individuals, families, or board of directors look to influence their community. Therefore, we remain open-minded and innovative, always listening carefully and coordinating efforts across all necessary decision-makers to offer each client a tailored experience. Caring for the community is a lifetime’s worth of work, and we devote our time, resources, and expertise to protecting each organization’s investments, operations, and future. 

Prince: What are the benefits of working with an institution like FTI? 

Cummings: From the start, every team member comes to each client conversation with listening ears. Then we provide ideas and knowledge to help address the concerns and needs at hand. 

We understand the significant work that charities, and the philanthropic individuals who support them, serve in our community. They are often under enormous pressure to carry out their missions each day while also planning for the unexpected. Ensuring the safe keeping of these organizations also serves a greater purpose for the US economy, as nonprofits are the third-largest workforce provider in the nation, according to the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Economic Data Project. Therefore, not only do we provide wealth planning and investment management, but we also provide specialized philanthropic consulting. 

To ensure our nonprofit partners grow and maintain stable operations, our team includes a Philanthropic Director, Abby Axelrod-Wunderman. Abby comes from the nonprofit sector and concentrates on providing guidance and customized strategy, planning, and administrative support solutions to our nonprofit clients. With this added skill set, our team further elevates nonprofits in various areas, including board governance and dynamics, strategic visioning, fundraising, revenue diversification, and high-impact investing. 

Prince: What are some major trends you are seeing across the foundations and endowments industry and how is FTI evolving to work with clients to meet these trends? 

Cummings: It is essential for foundations and endowments to stay well-informed of the latest community concerns, so they can best assist their constituents. We also take it upon ourselves to stay abreast of these issues to ensure we can best support our clients’ work in the communities they serve. 

It is no surprise the global pandemic has hit nonprofits’ bottom line. Now more than ever, the efforts of nonprofit leaders are focused on safeguarding futures through smart financial stewardship and meaningful programs. We facilitate nonprofit board governance and educational opportunities to help board members make the best financial decisions to fulfill the organization’s mission. We also assist with diversifying fundraising strategies for public charities to protect revenue streams in a crisis. 

Another area of growing interest for nonprofits is the use of more complex assets to support and fund charitable efforts. Whether it is a private foundation looking to convert an insurance policy into their foundation’s investments for grantmaking, or a public charity interested in accepting real estate from a donor to further program work, we are constantly expanding our offerings to help with accepting unique assets. 

Additional trends across foundations involve international giving and trust-based philanthropy. International giving is tricky and can lead to some disappointing outcomes if donors are not fully aware of their charitable investments. With our team of experts, we work with carefully vetted third-party associates to execute on global giving needs for our clients, ensuring each dollar is used to encourage positive change in the world. 

Likewise, we assist with ongoing grant reporting, so clients feel confident knowing what is happening with their grantmaking. On another note, we are also mindful of tactics and best practices for implementing trust-based philanthropy with clients who are interested in bringing a new vantage point to their giving through deeper values-sharing and relationship-building with grantees. This is a great example of how Abby supports and guides clients. She ensures they make thoughtful philanthropic decisions that match their values and legacy planning goals. 

Prince: What advice would you give families, individuals, or nonprofits looking to further their philanthropic efforts? 

Cummings: It takes awareness and acts of selflessness to actively influence and make a positive impact through social and environmental endeavors. Recognizing your, and your organization’s, deeply held values is the first step towards making positive change, and this eventually leads to lasting transformational change. 

Once you, your family, or your organizational leadership understand their core values, focus on making incremental progress through simple problem-solving. Follow through on improving specific areas of your operations, from investment capabilities to programmatic building to community awareness. Transformational change is a long game, and it is easy to get weary along the way. To help, ensure you have people around you who can offer patience, consistent feedback, and strong partnerships. We are here to help. 

RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine ( and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius ( He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.