Is gift planning a profession affected with the public trust? Do we represent not only the donor, with his or her vision and values, but also the public interest? Let me give an example, for the sake of discussion. The example is, let's say, hypothetical.
Case Study in Strategic Philanthropy
Candidia's firm, WB, is a global brand, making athletc shoes, apparel and sporting goods. They export the manufacturing to sweatshops in poor countries. The children who make the items, and their parents would starve in the streets were the child not working, under conditions that would be illegal in the US. Let's also acknowledge that the goods cost less, and are more profitable than if sweated child labor were not used. Let's also admit that GNP is increased. Still, the firm gets push back from human rights activists, and sales suffer. Enter the gift planner.
Candidia, worth billions, invests either from her own pocket, her personal foundation, or from the corporate foundation a few hundred thousand dollars into a global human rights prize to be awarded in the name of her firm, to activists working for the rights of children. Perhaps a few activists are even willing to accept the prize. Photo opportunities all around. Sales of WB Brand merchandise go up. Activists back off. Planner pockets fee plus referrals.
Who are we to judge?
The Hidden Hand provides.
What is good for GNP is good for humankind.
The prize was set up through a 501(c)(3) and is, therefore, philanthropic.
If we don't do it someone else will.
What the big deal? The Nobel peace prize was founded by the guy who invented dynamite.
The Rhodes Scholarship was funded by a colonialist.
Carnegie, one of the great American icons of philanthropy, broke strikes with gunfire.
Duke was founded by a tobacco baron.
Thus good comes out of evil.
The sweetest rose grows from the rankest dung.
We are here to serve and should not turn clients away based on our own qualms.
It is the client's money, not our own, and wealth will be served.
All things happen through the will of God.
Well, citizen or gift planner, what say you? My own position is this: We owe each client one golden moment in which to reconsider his or her goals. We owe them what Diogenes, or Socrates, provided in Athens to the powerful of their day - at least one probing question, or at least one riddle, paradox, parable or jest. Otherwise gift planning is - right? - an amoral profession.