What Drives A Donor: Tragedy & Triumph

What Drives A Donor: Tragedy & Triumph

Article posted in Practice, Values-Based on 20 October 2017| comments
audience: National Publication, Two Hawks Consulting, LLC | last updated: 27 October 2017


Often, life changing events change one's giving perspective. We explore the opportunities in both victory and in loss.

By: Randy A. Fox, Editor-in-Chief

When we as advisors begin the process of learning who our new clients are, we often start with their balance sheets, their net worth statements, their insurance policies and employee benefits. While this tells us what they have, it doesn’t tell us who they are, what they want or what motivates them.

As we get to know them, if we’re alert and gain their trust, and carefully open the door to their personal side, what we will find is what makes them who they are. The discovery of the persona, the emotional make up of what drives the individual to be the person that they are, is where we can best discover how to direct them.

Often in the stories that emerge, will be ones of tragedy and others of triumph. These are pivotal moments in an individual’s background – typically turning into a focus for future action. And sometimes that action is philanthropic – one that highlights the triumph or attempts to solve the problem that caused the tragedy.

A daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver left a family with such a need for a voice that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) was brought into existence. Today, they’re the largest advocacy group in the country focused on preventing individuals from driving while intoxicated – it’s existence motivated by a heartbreaking loss.

It is certainly not suggested that we prey on the tragedies of the clients we meet – only that we look to see how we can help them deal with that crisis by utilizing the tools that we know and understand. It might simply be a contribution or volunteering for a charity that already serves to fix the problem. Our role is to identify and ask – to be helpful, understanding, show leadership, and be respectful. Everyone deals and reacts to adversity in their own way – we must understand and accept that.

While tragedy is one side of the equation, there are also triumphs to celebrate – easier to discuss and just as big a motivation. One client I worked with many years ago, an extremely wealthy individual, kept claiming he wasn’t charitable and that he didn’t really care about much of anything. He went on at length about how he was “self-made” and had come from nothing. But when he revealed that he’d been raised in an orphanage, it was realized that the orphanage had been critical in his upbringing and success – and but for that experience he wouldn’t be the man he is. Today, that orphanage is endowed by a large gift by him. It not only represents his personal victory, but an acknowledgment to the people who helped him triumph over his circumstances.

For some, it may be a coach, teacher or program that launches a successful athletic or academic career. It may be the person who helped you discover that you were good at math or the person who took the time to elicit your musical genius when no one else could see it. The point is, we don’t know unless we take the time to ask and listen. By doing so, we may discover a desire to make a gift, to return the favor, to pay it forward, that even our client didn’t know they had. That’s what we do.

Give me a call at (704) 698-4055 or email me at randy.fox@ezcharitable.com for more information on how charitable planning can benefit your clients.

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