Canadian giving, Part 5

By Todd Cohen

Of Canada’s six major banks, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia and TD Bank Financial Group have launched philanthropic-services programs, says Marvi Ricker, vice president and managing director for philanthropic services for the private bank at BMO Financial Group, a Toronto-based national bank.

“The planned-giving industry is relatively new,” roughly 10 years old, and only in larger institutions, says Ricker, a former foundation executive who said she filled one of the first philanthropic-services job at a major Canadian bank when she was hired three years ago.

Despite the expected wealth transfer in Canada, she says, donors and charities typically are not prepared to connect with one another to direct that wealth to philanthropic causes.

Donors typically have not developed a philanthropic focus or strategy, and their values have changed over time, she said, while charities, especially smaller ones, typically have not developed planned-giving strategies.

In a study several years ago, for example, Toronto-based consulting firm Environics found a big change since the 1950s in values and, in turn, in philanthropy.

“In the 1950s, the social values that characterized Canada were deference to authority, deferred gratification, involvement in organized religion,” Ricker says. “That all has changed with the Baby Boom generation.”

And Boomers have changed philanthropy, she says.

“These are not people prepared to write a check and just give it to the organization,” she says. “They want to be involved.”

And they want their involvement to include “the experience of transformation,” she says.

So the challenge for charities, and for professional advisers and financial institutions that offer philanthropic services to donors, she says, is to “engage them in a real way.”

While larger institutions can provide resources to help donors find a philanthropic focus and develop a philanthropic strategy, she says, smaller charities can give donors an “opportunity to really become involved in their organization” and can “showcase what they’re doing in the community.”

Jo-Anne Ryan, vice president for philanthropic advisory services at TD Waterhouse Canada, the wealth management unit of TD Bank Financial Group, says some Boomers treat charitable donations as investments, wanting to show a social return.

To reach that market, she says, charities will need to do a lot more reporting to donors on the impact of their donations, and financial advisers will need to understand the broad range of giving techniques, and align themselves with “centers of influence” like lawyers and accountants.
It also will be critical for charities, financial institutions and professional advisers to use a “team approach” to donors, and to get out of their “comfort zone and raise the topic of philanthropy,” including values and mission, when talking to clients, she says.

“They’re going to have to start having those discussions,” she says, “and they’re also going to have to keep themselves informed on various methods of giving and tax rules, and have a network of people who can assist them in the process.”

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Canada gears for $1 trillion transfer. 
Part 2: Philanthropy booming in Canada.
Part 3: Nonprofits in Canada aim to engage donors. 
Part 4: Foundations growing in Canada. 
Part 6: Nonprofits in Canada shifting focus to donors.

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