A feisty, good-hearted foundation leader from Maine said to me, via email, in effect, "We don't need no stinking bureaucracy called a 'Hub.' We will do what do right here in Maine." Relishing her response, I tried to clarify, in the note below, what we hope to accomplish. All criticism is very much welcome and needed.
Today, as we speak people throughout the US are talking to their JDs, life insurance agents, and financial advisors about their wills, trusts, and estates. Few will make bequests, and what bequests are made will most often be small. The advisors don't bring it up, and when they do it is a small ineffectual gesture, "Are you philanthropic?"
I find, though, that when I ask better questions, I get better answers: "Are there things you love other than self and family? Where do you volunteer? Are their things you have left undone, things that really matter? If you could make the world a better place in any way, what would it be?" That kind of open-ended conversation is easy for those with the heart for it, but almost impossible to teach to hard-boiled JDs and advisors.
We, and our clients, need those of you who are nonprofit activists more than you need us. We need you not just as people who represent a certain charitable entity; we and our client/citizen/donors need your love of humanity, your passion, dedication and moral example. The "Hub" is just a network right now of good people working inside and beyond their official roles, as advisor or foundation exec, to help fellow citizens be as generous and as effective in their giving as possible. Tracy Gary is piloting that effort, providing inspirational leadership to donors and advisors. As she succeeds, with friends of Changemakers, in San Francisco and elsewhere, we will share lessons learned. The Hub could take on other functions if certain resources are best centralized rather than duplicated, but its core mission is to pilot a financial and estate planning process that begins and end with love (caritas).