Recognizing when high-net-worth clients are charitably inclined 

When we think about gifts for clients, we notice there is a tendency toward repetition: “Hey, this is exactly what their dentist is doing for them.” We have been on a mission to come up with unique ideas of how we connect with our clients from a gift standpoint. There is a lot associated with it, such as understanding that there are certain amounts of gifts you’re allowed to give before it has to be reported and the importance of keeping a gift log. So, we found we were not being unique and the regulators were all over it, making it a pain to actually execute.  

Part of our goal is to find more of our 1A clients and expand our breadth of services that we work with them on. We found that our 1A clients are what most would consider ultra-wealthy, and they need a picnic basket like they need a hole in the head. There’s nothing they need that we could give them; they buy whatever they want. So, we said, “Wait a minute, a lot of these people are very charitably inclined. They’re looking for qualified charitable deductions, distributions from IRAs directly into a charity. Why don’t we try to capitalize on that?”  

We started at the top of our client list and said, “Please tell us your favorite charity and why you love them.” We wanted to connect the story of that charity to that person because high-net-worth clients might give to a number of different things, but there’s usually going to be one particular charity they have in mind: ” My daughter had cancer, and so I really feel passionate about giving to the American Cancer Society,” or whatever it is. There is some emotional trigger that has connected them to this charity. And we said, “Perfect. That is exactly what we’re looking for.” And so we note that as important information in our CRM, so when we want to do something for that client, we will do it in the name of that charity.  

We do everything we can to focus all our efforts on whatever their charity of choice is. So instead of sending them a tchotchke for their birthday, we send a donation to the charity and say, “Thanks for giving to this charity.” And then the charities will also send a thank-you card. It’s been a hugely successful area for us because those ultra-wealthy people love that, and they view that we’re giving out our money, which we are, so it helps them also connect with us to be able to say, “Oh, these guys aren’t just in it for themselves.” 

Adam Thomas Rex, CFP, AIF, is a 12-year MDRT member from Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. Hear more in the September 2022 episode of the MDRT Podcast: 

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