Notably, the Marin Community Foundation relies almost exclusively on referrals from professional advisors.
"They are our entry point. We view them as critically important," Derby notes. "Many donors today view their advisor as their first link of trust. Once the donor is confident about all other aspects of their financial planning, they'll begin to consider charitable intent. At that point, the advisor may suggest a donor advised fund as a component of a client's overall financial planning."
Once or twice a month, in working with advisors I will suggest they get in touch with a local community foundation. This is maybe 10-25 cases a year out of 2,000 - 3,000 projects a firm our size might touch in a year. What the foundations are missing is what a tiny fraction of the case flow they receive. The bulk of their incoming leads (from the advisory community) represents a miniscule segment of the market advisors control. Community foundations might think about the world from the advisor's perspective and ask how they might partner to mutual advantage, as well as for the benefit of client and client family. Most of what I get from community foundations is pretty much about them and what they offer. They are solicting attention, but not presenting themselves as adding value for advisors. They may educate on tools and techniques, but that info is widely available elsewhere. How can advisors prosper by encouraging clients in their generosity? How can advisors prosper by detouring client dollars through a community foundation? Answer that question convincingly and the flow of leads might increase many times over. Part of this is about helping advisors gets paid on assets under management in the community foundation, but part of it is about marketing, prospecting, and two way referral flows. Partnering with advisors is not just about how many leads you got, but also how many you gave, and how many working relationships you fostered. Ultimately, it is about creating alliances for the benefit of the donor that are so effective that donors are attracted to the program.
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