Talking with Clients About Charitable Giving

Apr. 23, 2019

There’s no single formula to determine when and how to speak with clients about charitable giving. Timing is important. So are ways to “move” comfortably into a meaningful discussion.


There are times that provide organic opportunities because the discussion is made more natural by the context of larger issues and questions at hand.


  • During discussions of estate planning. Clients are often interested in discussing the idea of a legacy, what they’d like to be remembered for, and the institutions and issues they care about.
  • During year-end tax planning. Clients are often interested in the types of assets that maximize the tax advantages of charitable giving, such as highly appreciated stock or real estate.
  • At retirement. At this new stage of life, clients are sometimes open to how they will deploy their time and financial resources.
  • Before major financial decisions. Large-scale financial transactions, such as selling a business or dealing with significant IRA or 401(k) assets, can spur conversations about charitable giving as part of an overall strategy.


Bridging a conversation to a topic like charitable giving is often easiest by asking a personal question that might have emotional impact for the client and then using the client’s answer to begin a dialogue.


  •  You’ve told me that in your life, you’ve benefited greatly from the experience you had at X. Have you ever thought about expressing your gratitude with a gift?
  • We’ve had several conversations about providing for your family and others. What about providing for some of the causes and issues you care most deeply about?
  • You have a deep interest and pride in X. Might this be a good time to think about how you might sustain X for the future?
  • Since we’re discussing limits to inheritance, perhaps you might want to think about using the surplus to support your charitable legacy?
  • I know X helped you in your time of need. Is this the time to think about giving something back to X?
  • We’ve been discussing the same options for some time. There are other ways to think about this. Maybe we should discuss supporting some causes that help others.
  • In the end, these discussions should be “rewarding” and “satisfying” for you. I have a number of clients who found reward and satisfaction by engaging in charitable giving. Should we discuss some options in that area?
  • You’ve told me X set the right example for you. Do you want to talk about setting your own example through charitable giving?
  •  What you’ve just told me about X sounds like one of the most meaningful experiences in your life. Is there some way you might want to continue that experience with X through a gift?


We are always happy to help facilitate charitable conversations or consider strategies to meet giving goals. Contact Jordan Richardson, Director of Charitable Giving, to discuss the ways we can serve you as we make our community and state better together.