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Foundation teams up with advisers

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Building on its effort to serve as a philanthropic hub that supports and connects donors and nonprofits, Foundation for the Carolinas is undertaking several initiatives to work more closely with professional advisers.

The foundation has created a cabinet of roughly 30 advisers with expertise in philanthropic planning who will meet two to three times a year.

Key goals are to share information and knowledge, and to open doors to mutual clients.

“We want to do more than offer advice,” says Holly Welch Stubbing, senior vice president for client services. “We want to open new endowment funds at the foundation. What ultimately comes out of that advice is either a bequest or opening a new relationship.”

The foundation also is launching a series of brown-bag lunches at financial-services firms to talk about philanthropic techniques, issues and trends.

A key issue, for example, involves identifying and reaching prospective clients who are focused on their philanthropic impact, and need philanthropic advice and services, along with connections to community causes, says Laura Meyer, the foundation’s executive vice president.

“We have in common with these advisers a similar kind of client, who is going beyond mere transactions online and wants to be engaged in philanthropy,” she says. “That’s driven by taxes, succession planning and philanthropic interest.”

Stubbing says the meetings initially are targeting accounting firms because they see their clients frequently and are closely involved in helping clients make investment decisions related to taxes.

The foundation also is reaching out to a broader group of roughly 2,500 local advisers, including lawyers, accountants, brokers and financial planners.

While all their clients may not need highly sophisticated philanthropic advice, Stubbing says, members of that larger professional adviser network may be looking for resources about philanthropic issues, or connections to nonprofits.

One way the foundation plans to provide those connections is through software it is buying in partnership with a handful of other nonprofits to match volunteers with nonprofits needing board members.

The software, BoardNet, works like a dating service: People wanting to volunteer can submit information about their expertise, work and volunteer experience, interests and even activities when younger, and nonprofits can submit information about their needs, such as expertise in technology or finance, or fluency in Spanish.

The software makes a match and sends an email to both parties, and the nonprofit can follow up with the volunteer.

The idea, says Stubbing, is to provide a tool that advisers can use to connect them and their clients with nonprofits.

The foundation is looking for other ways to serve advisers.

Last fall, for example, through the N.C. Association of Community Foundations, the foundation sponsored a talk to about 65 advisers by an expert in charitable giving and tax strategies.

And in December, it sponsored three events featuring an expert on women and philanthropy, including a session talking with female professional advisers about how to engage their female clients in philanthropy.

By supporting and working more closely with professional advisers, says Meyer, the foundation aims to serve as a partner in serving the donor.

“Our objective,” she says, “is to partner successfully with the professional advisers in support of the overall client relationship.”

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