Getting ahead in giving Feed

Flagged by Sean

Kind words from Sean at Tactical Philanthropy,

Phil Cubeta and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. Long time readers of this blog know that he and I made it a habit to spar over various issues in some of the very earliest posts I ever wrote. But I can think of no better person to shape the future of the CAP program. We can absolutely count on Phil to shake things up, to demand better and to honor the deep human values that drive philanthropy.

He goes on to congratulate the College for having "the guts" to bring me on board. I am sure they are now ransacking my dossier to figure out what in heck Sean has in mind. Risky? Meek me? I am just a mild mannered Perfesser, Officer. A Tutor, yes. And, yes, Rabelais is now required reading for all Chartered Advisors in Philanthropy. Come, my Fellow Scholars, let us drink! For tonight we advise the Princess on The World We Want. Who could do that, in their right mind, sober? Well, this is a serious business, saving the world. No smiling. Let us move among Persons of Substance as their Faithful Servants. There has to be a good buck in this somewhere.


Moral Biographies of the Wealthy in Bulk, Hardbound

As an English major turned Professional Services Provider to Private Wealth clients in Wealth Bondage, I love this stuff:

"The Moral Biography of Wealth: Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation of Philanthropy." Paul G. Schervish. Published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Volume 35, No. 3, pp. 466-492. September 2006. Places the notion of a moral biography of wealth in historical context and suggests how advancement professionals can deepen their own moral biography by working to deepen the moral biography of their donors. Download Paper (PDF).

I am wondering if there might not be a double bottom line business, a kind of Vanity Press, that might pen and publish and pulp and recycle these Moral Biographies.  We could market them through CITI, Bank of America, Merrill, Wachovia, Goldman, to their philanthropic private banking clients.  You got a whole lot of moral heroism what could be documented if you had the time. If you provide a real Morals Tutorial to some of these clients you might sleep with the fishes. But a hardbound Moral Bio? That might sell.


Will Trade Meaning of Life For Beer

"What wine is best?," Diogenes was asked. "The wine another buys you," replied the Master. Please, if this blog has opened your eyes to your sinful way of life, if I have made you see how corrupt is our Bondage to Wealth in our so-called Free Market, or Social Capital Market, please pay your enlightenment forward by buying this poor Beggar a beer!

I am so thirsty - as thirsty, Dear Potential Client, for beer as you are for meaning in your God-forsaken life. Give me the beer and I will give your life meaning. But give me the beer first.

No Full Service Bank, no matter how well staffed with Senior Philanthropic Consultants, no matter how dedicated to the public interest, will make this offer. One Goddamn beer! Who else will give your life meaning that cheap? No takers? OK. Forget the beer. I will plan the meaning of your life, Mr. Bigshot, for nothing. I have an open space on my calendar, as it happens. Just let me sit in the limo while we do it, ok? It is cold out here on the street.


Banking on Philanthropy

I was included today on a conference call with a major bank. They are doing a national survey of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) on philanthropy. The blue ribbon panel (on which I am an improbable member) will guide the survey and help the bank position itself as a "thought leader in philanthropy."  The conversation was extremely professional, well-informed, and even idealistic. All concerned had a commitment to giving and society. Interesting, all in all. And, probably on balance it will be a big contribution to the field.

Patronage of philanthropy: Who funds "thought leaders"? Is there a space from which the conversation can be convened for all comers from the Dumpster out behind a mega-bank? Or from the public square, where the voices of high net worth citizens - fine prospects for financial services, for philanthropy, and for legal services, as well as for luxury goods, and donations to lobbyists and political candidates - speak for themselves, one to another, and many to many, among the undeserving poor, and other losers, rather than having themselves debriefed by surveyors on a phone bank? The insights, with a blue ribbon commission funded by a bank, flow to the central power, whose power and prestige are then elevated, and that is a good thing, I guess. Knowledge/Power flows to the center and is then disseminated, as the bank's study will be, benefiting all, with the bank the well positioned middle term.

What is missing is the raucous buzz of conversations forming on the margins, finding their own center unaided, and moving knowledge and power away from the centralized well-funded hubs with their avid interest in the High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). There are people like me in these big financial hubs, with training in both finance and the liberal arts, or in religion, who want to ask you (if and only if you are rich), "What is the meaning of life - in general, and yours in particular? And, where does giving fit? And would you like to talk now that we have clarified your values, to our charitable trust department, our dynasty trust department, our investment unit, our financial planning department, our estate planning department, our foundation experts, our donor advised fund unit, our legal unit, our IPO Unit?" I do that kind of thing on company time, and I am proud of it. How better for an English major down on his luck to make an honest buck off being a facilitator of wealthy people and their values, however banal?

But out here in the street, by the Dumpster, after work, hanging out with my questionable friends, sharing a bottle of Thunderbird, I am doing the real deal, for which no company would pay me, to put it positively, or mildly. What we do for love of our fellow human beings, for love of our country, we do in the shadows, pro bono publico. "Truth is a bitch who must to kennel," so said King Lear's Fool, or words to that effect. If you see someone coming calling my name, and he or she looks like they work for a bank or whatever, tell them I am not here. I am on the lam, blogging as a citizen when no one any longer is a citizen, except insofar as they are being stroked and pumped for money or votes, or the values that can be used to get them to put their money to work through a financial center for the benefit of all.

They say that Diogenes was kicked out of his home town for debasing the currency. It is a scandal: Standing naked on the street, giving away gold coins to rich people when counterfeit passes current; and then getting busted for making a mockery of social capital markets, philanthropy, thought leadership, values-based planning, the whole blessed game.

I will file this post under "the raw and the cooked." Free range philosophers are still the best, if taken with a grain of salt. Hey all you HNWIs! Stop awhile! Don't you cross the street to avoid us! Come on, Mister! Madame! Come! Get naked like us, and don't hog that bottle. We are all just humans here. We are all going to die and turn into the same stinking goo. Tell us all about what matters most to you, Mr and Mrs Rich Person. We Ultra Low Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) are soooo interested in the world you want. "No pet will die without a home"? "A World Class Opera House in Dallas"? How touching! By the way, how much cash you got in that bank over there? I hope this is not too personal, but now that we are friends, and I am practically your Trusted Advisor, could you float me a loan? I am finding myself a bit short at the end of the month.


Always Be Closing Planned Gifts

I am here on a mission of mercy. - The man from downtown

Steps to Success

  1. Meet with donor
  2. Gather 2 facts (donor age 65 owns appreciated property) 
  3. Gather no goals
  4. Assume goals are tax reduction and income
  5. Suggest Charitable Remainder Trust
  6. Wait several days as donor consults advisor
  7. Express surprise when deal is rejected
  8. Go back to step 1 with new donor
  9. Repeat until deal is closed and quota met
  10. Write paper on best practices for National Committee on Planned Giving.

How to Fail Miserably

  1. Get to know donor as human being
  2. Gather through open-ended conversation the donor's goals for self, family, and society
  3. Encourage the donor's best instincts
  4. Help donor weigh the joy of a gift now or gift later or at death
  5. Help donor weigh inheritance to kids versus philanthropy
  6. Help donor weigh the benefits to children of a philanthropic inheritance, or a family tradition of current gifts, or through a foundation or donor advised fund
  7. Help donor reduce goals, including but not limited to philanthropic goals, to talking points for advisors
  8. Serve as resource to advisors as overall financial, giving, and estate plan is created
  9. Express gratitude as massive current gift, or legacy commitment, is made to your organization
  10. Abandon this process when it comes out that the donor also made a massive gift to some other organization
  11. Slap yourself for having helped society, donor, family, and your organization
  12. Return to proven Steps to Success listed above.

I am not sure planned giving as a career option can be saved. But there are jobs open in the financial services bidnis pitching product. If you are a planned giving officer who is finding Charitable Remainder Trusts a hard sale these days, I would be happy to line you up with a financial sales recruiter.  If you are going to play pitch and putt to meet a quota you might as well at least have a decent commission structure, along with basic sales training. If you knew how to answer objections you would not be in this mess. There are only four objections to any financial product or service, including a Charitable Trust. Master the answers and you will succeed like a champ.  I will cover these answers to objections in another lesson. By way of preview: The fourth and hardest objection to answer in any sale of a financial product or service is "No Confidence." The No Confidence Objection is best met by wearing an expensive suit. You can rent one if you cannot afford to purchase one.

Forgive me.  Don't rent the suit. You would do better to buy it on a credit card with a good low teaser rate.  Remember, no one will do a Charitable Remainder Trust with a planned giving officer in a cheap suit.  Stay away from Glengarry plaids too. 


Who is Calling Whom a Prostitute Here?

The money quote from a prostitute who auctioned off her services for charity: "There are people who are going to be donating money that's a lot more questionable than mine," she said. "The only thing I did was publicize it."

Well, the screw-up she made, if I can put it that way, was not hiring a philanthropic consultant like me to put her gift in the best light. It is not what she did, but how she positioned it that we might fault. Yes, other donors I can name have done worse, in fact it is quite common, but they didn't come right out and admit they were prostitutes. Most present themselves as business people on a journey from success to significance, or whatnot. I mean, think of what I could have done for this whore-with-a golden-heart, if she had contacted me earlier. First thing I would have done is to get her name changed to Mary Magdalene. That would have shut some mouths. Then I would have funneled the gift through Hudson Institute to some study by Bill Bennett of Family Values. Then we could get her born again, assuming she has to, being a Catholic. Or, we could say she has repented and and position the gift as atonement. Or, we could get her a book deal, put her on Oprah, and after she gets rich, have her repent.  Or, she could just put her client list on line and be done with it.

Who is to say in this upside down world of ours who is and who is not a prostitute? Had I myself not been a Dungeon Master to the Stars in a Wealth Bond*age B*rdello, I could not stomach my current role as Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families. In those days as a prostitute, I still had a conscience, but it wears off.  One thing leads to another, but at least I don't work in a think tank. That may be next step my Rake's Progress. I hope not. A think tank, that postmodern madhouse would be the end of the line. I still have some standards. Dear God! May I not sink that low, poor wretch that I am! Spare me that last humiliation of a once proud intellect.


Funding American Greatness

"Do you not think I have just cause to weep, when I consider that Alexander at my age, had conquered so  many nations, and I have all this time done nothing that is memorable?" - Julius Caesar upon reading of the exploits of Alexander the Great

I went to see my friend and colleague, Smoky Joe, Senior Fellow at Rooster Foundation: Crowing in the New American Century. I had hoped to talk about doing some sort of Values-Based Planning deal with their wealthy contributors, but I found Joe with his head down on his desk, weeping, and flailing with his fists.  "Dr. Joseph Goebbels was dead at age 48, Phil," he said, "and look at me at 51.  What have I accomplished that is memorable?" I reassured him that many of his phrases (like "Operation Iraqi Freedom") have been memorable and he still has more than a year to do to America what his hero did to Berlin.  He brightened immediately and went back to his typing. It was a press release, I believe, to be read on Fox News about doing God's work in Iran.  My fundraising idea will have to wait, I guess. I wonder if Bill O'Reilly is a good values-based planning prospect? If we can't cure these people, at least we can make a buck off them. When it comes to advancing my own career, I am transpartisan. Every funder has a right to his or her own values. It is all subjective, anyway. The main thing is to offend no one, make an honest buck, and live well among the ruins.


Morals Coaching: What's In It For Me?

To set the record straight, no, Dr. Chadwallah, I am not looking for a job with Porter Novelli: Many Minds Singular Results(tm) on their Crisis & Issues Team. Nor, for that matter, despite your scurrilous innuendos, Dr., am I running some kind of shake down operation here. I disdain filthy lucre! My purse may be empty, but my reputation is my treasure house full to bursting with gold not of this world. You would do well to honor my noble trade and forgo these slurs upon an honorable man who has devoted his entire adult life to serving others. My goal is to advance philanthropy by providing Morals Tutorials and Values-Based Planning for wealthy, public-spirited people, for the good of all.  To the extent Porter Novelli might want to put me in charge of their Corporate Foundation, say, we might have the basis for an arrangement, as long as I could still Coach Mr. Dokken and his peers pro bono publico on the side as my way off giving back to society. From Good to Great, in Pursuit of Excellence - even the best get better with proper instruction and some external discipline. I am driven to see The Wealthy of the World be the best they can be morally speaking. Each wealthy client is precious to me as a human being, and frail human soul, whose salvation hangs in the balance like a spider suspended by the hand of an angry God over a burning pit by a single thread. Money has never been that big a motivator for me, though I accept gifts graciously on a pay it forward basis so that I might continue my work in the Mission Fields where I am called to serve Persons of Wealth. I would never ask for money from a Morals Tutorial Client until we had achieved measurable results, which can take years, even with a cooperative client who candidly confesses his improvement opportunities upfront.  First, comes Benchmarks. Painful but necessary. Nobody ever said Moral Improvement comes easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. But the journey of a million miles starts with a single step. Moral improvement is tough, but when things get tough, the tough get going.  Engaging an experienced Morals Tutor such as myself is often a good move. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Let's get it off on the right foot by making a clean breast of it all. Right here. Right now. 


Why Laundering Drug Money through Philanthropy is Good For America

So how do we recirculate the so-called "dirty money"? Bury it in a hole? Why not build cathedrals, hospitals, museums, and churches right here in the US? Don't we want the dollars repatriated, preferably right back to the inner city? You can call it dirty money, but as that Roman Emperor said about the toilet tax, "Pecunia non olet." Money has no smell.

I mean, let's say Al Capone had decided to create Capone School of Business at Harvard, would that have been all bad if they could have hired Jack Kemp or some other public servant and thought leader to head it up? The good done by the School might at least partially offset the blood shed and the legs broken and the officials corrupted in making the money. Laundering drug money sounds bad, but how much worse would be to have unlaundered money piling up everywhere by the trillions, like horse dung in the streets back in the 19th century. You can't just cart currency around in a suitcase when you want to exercise your free speech by contributing to a local or national political candidate. You can't fly Obama or Hillary to Colombia, toss them in the money pit, and let them stuff as much cash as they can in their underwear. We are a civilized people. We deal in checks, favors traded, honors, Presidential medals and pardons, charitable gifts, political influence. Yes, in an ideal world there would be no Vice and no Folly, but in the real world our job is to make the best possible use of it and to maximize our blended total return, a fine blend of Vice, Folly, Profit, Political Return on Investment, and Philanthropy. If you mess all that up you would bring down the country. Personally, I hope the Homeland Security or the CIA or Blackwater or someone else we can trust is protecting these vital financial arteries, connecting covert and overt, lest the entire system get the equivalent of a massive heart attack, congestive heart failure. Keep the money flowing, like blood from the hands to the belly to the head and to the heart. To be disgusted by drug money is like the head being ashamed of the digestive tract  or the (pardon me) rectum. Everything has to circulate properly; otherwise the whole body would just explode and there would be crap everywhere. It is just the same with the Body Politic.

The real issue here is that ordinary people don't want to know the truth. They can't handle the truth. There is nothing bad going on, all things considered from a high level perspective, but the mushrooms have to be kept in the dark down in the basement for their own good. That is why we have news.

Miss Goody Two Shoes, Catherine Austin Fitts, is making the naive error of telling mushrooms more than mushrooms need or want to know. The bottom line is that everything is ok, except for Terrorism and that can be handled through Martial Law, if need be. Now, go back to your cubicles. Nothing is happening here folks. Everything is under control.

If it had been me, instead of Little Miss Sore-Loser Fitts, I would have stayed up there in the Great American Control room in DC, with the 24/7 Citizen Surveillance, cashing my big paycheck, bossing my 7,000 subordinates, and trading for my own account on all that inside information I got through legally tapping all the Wall Street phones and emails. I would have been loyal to those who were good enough to keep my bread buttered. I would be right in the middle of this subprime mortage mess, repossessing the houses of poor dumb black people and selling them to my smart rich white friends. There have  to be a thousand ways to profit as an insider when you work in secret with your pals in other departments, or when you raise enough money for candidates. I know which end is up. I am no Fool. I would have kept my own damn mouth shut like the rest of the white collar crooks and worn one of them Flag things in my lapel, cuz I would have had a suit then, instead of being stark naked like I am now.  I just wish I had a Great Country I could sell to the highest bidder, one neighborhood at a time.  The Chinese are going to own us anyway. The seas are dying. The bees have flown off God knows where. The handwriting is on the wall. We might as well cash out now and get the money in a Swiss Vault, before it all hits the fan. How do I get mine out this, before the panic sets in?

Philanthropy may be corrupt, ok, but I can tell you this, I can't scrounge $3.75 for a small Latte as a "Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families." I say I work pro bono publico, but the fact is I can't charge for this. Rich people flee me. They don't even drive into my neighborhood except to buy drugs. I am thinking of going back to prostitution. At least as a Dungeon Master to the Stars, I got paid for beating these people. Whatever it takes. The secret of success in our business is keeping the rich client happy. Who are we to judge? Wasn't it Will Rogers who said, "I never met a rich man I didn't like?"