New Marketing Ideas For Advisors Searching For Prospective Clients Through Charitable Organizations (including Churches)


Like many of us, I have tried to network to prospective clients (in my case, future major/mega donors) through nonprofit leaders and pastors. Even the most cooperative and supportive leaders could not successfully introduce me to the best prospects. Admittedly, whatever these nonprofit leaders were sharing with their donors about my initial meeting and the deliverables I would be offering, the leader shared it in a second-hand way with much lost in the translation. The donors predictably responded, “I’ll pass.”  

The Epiphany.

By contrast, when I was meeting with donors directly, they said, “I sit on other boards and attend an affluent church. No one there talks about these ideas. Would you be willing to help my other organizations too?” Now what better way is there than that to network to prospective donors? And I found out that the giving capacity of these donors would often be much greater than the organization’s budget needs and even greater than the cost of its vision for its future.

Another insight I learned was that I should always emphasize how my deliverables will impact current gifts! For example, I tell the pastor, “My intent is to teach new ways to approach the offering plate next Sunday—not after death.” (Not that we don’t want a plan for that too.) 

The New Approach.

Ask for an appointment with these nonprofit leaders and ask them to invite a successful business owner. The business owner is coached to be there as a gatekeeper and to help discern if what is being offered is solid or sketchy. Also, some of the content, stories and examples will have information that is immediately relatable and relevant to the business owner, who will be the only one who will readily understand the terminology.

About 20 minutes into the meeting, you should likely see the business owner pivoting from a gatekeeper role to becoming a part of the story you are sharing. You will know this has happened when the business owner begins to ask some transparent, self-revealing questions about their own personal situation.

Recently, I was at a Fresno, CA church conducting a similar meeting with the senior pastor and one of their long-time members who was a business owner. After about 20 minutes, the member revealed his business was worth $150 million, that he was planning to net $6 million in personal income this year and that he was interested in having a one-on-one follow up meeting with me. He further stated that he knew others in the church who were in similar situations and thought having a workshop with this homogenous group would be productive.

The pastor was previously completely unaware of these details about the business owner!

In this case, what originally spurred the pastor’s interest in having the meeting is that they were launching a modest capital campaign. Now it became obvious that the church’s capacity to give was much larger than the church’s capacity to receive. 

Suggestions For Information/Education Talking Points To Share.

What follows next is some content that may be useful to include in your presentation, in addition to other information you use to describe your practice and deliverables.

  • Why is our giving information so helpful and needed? Every year, about 80% of what Americans give is cash. The remaining 20% is non-cash assets. But, almost 90% of what we own is non-cash assets and only about 10% of what we have is cash.
  • Looking at this another way, of the $300 billion in donations given annually, non-cash gifts make up $50 billion or 17% of the total. And, outside of gifts of food and clothing, very few churches and public charities receive any of these non-cash gifts.
  • We want to help charities by sharing with their donors information about the non-cash assets people are giving and why. We want to invite people to think differently about the stuff they own that stretches from the attic to the basement and from sea-to-shining-sea.
  • When people give the amount that they purposed in their hearts to give, but give differently, with non-cash assets, they can often double their tax benefits and have more discretionary cash leftover, which enhances additional giving opportunities.
  • Only an average of 7% of a wealthy person’s assets is made up of cash or cash equivalents, like marketable securities. The other 93% is mostly made up of stock in privately-held businesses, then real estate, then all kinds of other stuff.
  • Compared to business owners, no one has a greater range of options for giving. Owners can give a percentage of their closely-held stock, company assets, inventory, services, corporate foundation grants and employee-matching gifts.  And, like the rest of us, business owners may also give out of their personal income and other resources. Usually, the largest charitable gifts to charitable organizations from individuals come from business owners and most often from gifts of closely-held stock or real estate.
  • Most charities and churches, even those who attain their annual giving goals, do so without receiving a single asset gift—including gifts of publicly-traded securities.

Additional Questions And Information For Donors

  1. Ask, “Have you thought of any other way to give?”
  1. Based on IRS Statistics on Income, most affluent donors pay unnecessary capital gains taxes, because they first sell off appreciated assets and then donate the cash proceeds. If they gave the assets instead, their tax benefits would double and their discretionary leftover income would increase too.
  1. Wealthy people can afford the most expensive financial advisors and still get no, or incomplete, charitable giving advice.
  1. Are you planning to sell anything this year for a significant profit and are you already planning to share a portion of the proceeds with the charitable organizations you support?

The objective is to ask the donors, beginning with business owners, if they have ever considered another way of giving and then give them examples of what other owners have given.


By: Dan Rice, Co-founder of CTAC and Philanthropy Architect for Convoy of Hope

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