Sound Advice Davita Financial's D. Crystal Alford-Cooper

June 19, 2017

Sound Advice is a charitably-minded Q&A series from BCF by professional advisors in Baltimore. Do you have advice to share with colleagues? Contact Rosemary Calderalo today.

D. Crystal Alford-Cooper, CFP®, CRC®, CDFA™, is the Owner/CEO of Davita Financial Planning LLC and President of the Financial Planning Association of Maryland.

Question: Why do you include philanthropy in client conversations?

To serve my clients in the best way possible, I ask about their interests and passions. What do they value: Their place of worship? Education? The environment? Arts and culture? A remedy for homelessness? Animal welfare? 

Once I understand more about my clients’ interests and passions, I can help them shape their financial planning in a direction that will be meaningful to them. Most people welcome an opportunity to talk about charitable giving as part of financial planning because giving makes us feel good. In fact, recent studies have linked giving with being healthier and living longer.

But most people want to contribute so they can understand the impact of their gift, and that’s where I talk with them about working with a community foundation and establishing a charitable fund. They like the fact that it’s a structured, active style of management, but they don’t have to police it. Rosemary Calderalo, BCF’s director of planned giving, is a great partner, and my clients know that their charitable funds will be well managed.

When financial advisors become involved in their clients’ charitable giving, they see that we’re not simply managing their assets for investment; we are helping them manage their financial lifestyle. Creating a legacy can be part of that. Family involvement as a centerpiece for giving back can be one of the greatest joys of building wealth. When I describe donor-advised funds, many realize they can engage their family members, especially younger people. It’s a great reason to get the family together to talk about their values and choices. 

Sometimes clients are surprised with what a family member will propose. One child had a friend whose family was homeless, and their gift could make a helpful change in that family’s life. Another family chose to name their fund in honor of the matriarch so her memory would live on.

Wealthy clients also appreciate being able to make a graceful reply to requests for donations. They can say my financial planner advised us to establish this charitable fund as a vehicle for giving, and you are welcome to apply for a grant from it. 

Philanthropy is a rewarding addition to overall financial planning, and it can help mitigate both income and estate taxes. But playing a meaningful, supportive role in causes that personally speak to a client goes far beyond tax deductions. 

This information is offered as an educational service. While we attempt to provide helpful estate and financial background information, BCF is not able to offer specific legal advice on personal situations.  We always encourage individuals to seek the advice of their own professional advisors to create a customized estate and financial plan that truly fulfills each individual’s unique family, healthcare, estate and planning circumstances.

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