This development and donor services team is looking forward to hearing from you as the end of year approaches!
If you are an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who routinely counsels clients who are philanthropically inclined, you know first hand that things have changed about how people view "doing good" in the community. This is especially true for the next generation of your clients who are tomorrow's community leaders.
Indeed, today’s social impact culture mindset has infiltrated every business, nonprofit, and financial institution in America. The boundaries of our personal and professional lives are blurred across a wide range of social impact behaviors.
What does this mean for your work with your clients? It means your clients are walking into your office with "doing good" on their minds. You can build an immediate connection with your clients when you start a conversation about the ways they--and you--are getting involved in the community. Here are three tips for starting that conversation.
1. Demonstrate that you are in touch with the wide range of "doing good" activities.
With the rapid rise of social consciousness, philanthropy is expanding to cover far more territory than just one or two ways to do good. Consider the full footprint of social impact lifestyle factors that make up the contemporary marketplace mindset: Giving to charities, volunteering in the community, serving on boards, donating necessities to people in need, recycling, purchasing products that support a cause, marketing a favorite organization, celebrating at fundraising events, sharing with friends and family, and caring about your own well-being. Ask your clients about a few of these social impact behaviors. This lets them know that you care about them as human beings.
2. Be aware of the regulatory environment.
Many of your clients who run or own businesses are paying attention to social responsibility in the corporate sector. For example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an international standards organization that helps businesses, governments, and other groups understand and communicate the impact of business on critical sustainability issues such as climate change, human rights, corruption, and many others. GRI represents the commitment of hundreds of companies to strive toward a common set of benchmarks to protect the earth and humanity. More than 90 percent of the world’s largest 250 companies are among the thousands of “GRI reporters,” meaning they subscribe to the organization’s standards for sustainability performance. Ask your clients about their corporate commitment to civic engagement.
3. Show your clients that you are doing something, too.
Your clients want to know that you share their commitment to community. Give them peace of mind by talking about your own volunteering efforts, the boards you serve on, or the charities you support. Best of all, let your clients know that you are connected to The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. We are an organization committed to helping people fulfill community dreams through the power of philanthropy.
If you are an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor, one of the most important questions you can ask a client is whether the client serves on boards of directors of nonprofit organizations. Not only will the answers give you insights into the client's community and philanthropy priorities, but you'll also have an opportunity to discuss fiduciary obligations when your client asks you for advice.
The team at The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is a terrific resource for learning more about serving on boards of directors in the community, whether you are advising a client who is serving on a board or you're interested in serving on a board yourself.
To get you started with information you can share with your clients, here’s a handy checklist of the three key responsibilities of board members:
Mission. The board is in charge of making sure the organization is achieving measurable goals to carry out the charity’s purpose. Charitable status carries with it a host of requirements under state corporate law, overseen by the attorney general, as well as tax laws set out in the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, the board is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the charity’s programs are actually working.
Leadership. The person responsible for the day-to-day business of the charity is the executive director, chief executive officer, or a person in some other designated position charged with oversight of the charity’s operations and programs. The board’s responsibility is to oversee this person, including hiring and firing the position. Additionally, the board has to govern itself and elect new members and officers according to its bylaws to make sure the governing body stays healthy and active.
Money. A big responsibility of directors is to ensure that the organization has the financial resources to carry out its mission. This responsibility includes compensating employees, covering overhead, and paying for the expenses of the programs that are delivering on the charity’s mission. In addition, the board needs to be sure proper financial oversight is in place with all the right legal and accounting controls. Finally, most boards expect directors to give financial support in some form, whether that is in the form of personal gifts, gifts from the director’s company, or through the director’s own efforts to fundraise on behalf of the charity.
Fulfilling responsibilities as a board member requires a big commitment of time. For instance, BoardSource reports that nearly half of all charity boards meet more than six times a year, and 75 percent of charities ask board members to participate in an annual retreat.
Not everyone is up for the fiduciary responsibility and time commitment of the director role. That’s okay! There are other methods of serving the charities and causes you and your clients love. For example, serving on a committee or task force does not carry the same fiduciary responsibility that comes with serving as a director, although it’s still a big commitment of time and effort.
Understanding your clients' community board activities gives you an important connection point as their advisor, and it can open the door for community opportunities for you, too. The Foundation team would love to explore this topic with you. We invite you to get in touch!