7. “Recently, we were brought in by an advisor to help a growing family foundation. Family members had been fairly reactive in their giving, but wanted to be more intentional and have a greater impact as their foundation was set to more than double in size. We were asked to help family members work together to set a clear vision for the foundation, determine where they focused their grantmaking, and articulate the desired impact. Just as important was creating a structure that would last across generations and bring the family together.” —Melinda McAliney, Vario Philanthropy

These are just some of the situations in which advisors have brought in PA firms to complement their work and help their clients. Other examples include: (1) donors who are young and involved in their successful careers but don’t have the time to put a plan together and establish a baseline; (2) heirs who, to their surprise, became the successor advisors to their parents’ DAF or foundation that they knew nothing about; (3) family members who disagreed on the causes the charitable vehicle supported.

The roles of PA firms can be important regardless if donors set up a donor-advised fund or private foundation or do not even have a charitable vehicle. Some banks or wealth management firms offer this guidance internally, but others do not or can only help a small percentage of their wealthiest clients. Many advisors are beginning to realize that these outside firms complement their work, especially if it is beyond their core competence. They understand that these referrals help their philanthropic clients and can help them expand their relationships with their current clients and their heirs. 

Ken Nopar is the senior philanthropic advisor for the American Endowment Foundation, the country’s leading independent donor-advised fund. AEF works with donors and their financial, legal and tax advisors in all 50 states.

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