Developing relationships with professional advisors who help people make their financial decisions—whether they are lawyers, bankers, CPAs or other experts—is one of the most important activities community foundations can undertake. Why? Because the greatest source of endowment contributions has historically come from bequests and planned gifts. Ever since the first community foundation was established in 1914, professional advisors have played a critical role in securing these gifts.
Often called “gatekeepers” or “agents of wealth,” these professionals work directly with high-net-worth clients or any individual who has assets, advising them about how to plan their estates, utilize tax strategies, and advance their philanthropic interests. Professional advisors help structure planned gifts and bequests that will provide current and future benefits to their clients. These benefits can also go to the people, organizations or causes their clients care about—including community endowments. If these professionals know about your community fund or foundation, they can help their clients direct some of these gifts to your organization.
- In rural communities, financial advisors are typically town lawyers or bankers— respected figures who lend instant credibility to your foundation’s mission.
- Professional advisors’ clients who leave bequests for your foundation can be an even greater source of contributions in rural communities than in urban areas because their wealth may be held in valuable land or other non-cash holdings.
- Professional advisors are among the few individuals with access to knowledge about wealth in the community. This is especially true in small rural communities, where information about wealth and assets tends to be closely guarded.