Best to close ranks and follow our leaders in these dangerous times.
I spoke on philanthropy today to 55 life insurance agents from around the US who work with clients many of whom are business owners in cities and towns large and small. The median age of the agents was probably 55. The median age of their business clients about the same. Each agent has several such clients, or a dozen or two, whose business is worth in excess of $10 million. We talked about listening to what the client most deeply wants to accomplish in the time remaining. Keep the business? Sell? Pass on to children? Do more volunteering? Get active as a leader in the community? Give? Get children involved in giving? We talked about how hard times are today for nonprofits and about how important it is that we work with clients on the gift of "now money," not just on deferred gifts and legacies.
If you raise money for a nonprofit, please consider the following suggestions:
If the agents come up blank , well, they are not too on top of their game. There are many ways advisors can free up current giving. They don't get paid to do that. But if you can help them create working relationships with other business owners, that too, those relationships, are "as good as gold" in the insurance business. So, what small business owners, who may not yet be big givers, do you have in your donor base? How can you stir the pot in such a way that these business owners get exposure to the agents in town who "get" and promote not only legacy planning, but also current giving? An event might be in order. A panel of business owners and professionals on how philanthropy fits in estate and financial planning? A success story in which a business owner exited a business, got engaged with giving, and got his or her kids engaged? The small business market is where so much of the wealth is (about 60% of GNP), it just makes sense to cultivate these "protophilanthropists" in this turbulent time. It is the advisors who have access. Referrals in and referrals out. That is how you stir the pot to the advantage of all concerned.
The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation.
The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward.
The Democrats' role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don't resist the rightward movement -- they let it happen -- but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.
Will Obama break the pattern?
Joseph R. Chambers, Paw Creek Ministries, 5110 Tuckaseegee Road Charlotte, NC 28208 USA at Rapture Ready, "Do Muslims Believe Obama is the Messiah?"
Following up on our conversation awhile back on Wealth Coaching, I have been thinking of how I might introduce your work as a Wealth Coach to the financial professionals I know who also call themselves Wealth Coaches. Let's say I was introducing you to "Jack," who is a financial person I know, a top life insurance agent, in Dallas who works with self made money. I might say that while you are both Wealth Coaches, your practices are very different. Jack's clientele is self made, high net worth, and/or high income, largely male, often conservative, often faith-based, often a closely held business owner.
Ruth Ann, yours, I assume, might lean more towards inherited wealth, women, progressives, secular people, people educated in "softer" fields like literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, dance, mythology, those who identify as "spiritual," and those who feel somehow marginalized in the male-dominated wealth planning world.
Jack's client's are born in small towns around Dallas, or in Dallas. They are educated in the local high school and maybe went to the local college or community college. They may have served in the military. Their business is often blue collar: a beer distributorship, a farm, ranch, car dealership, McDonald's franchise, Roto-Rooter franchise, home builder, plumbing supply company. One makes the chandeliers you may have seen in Las Vegas Casinos. Another owns a catfish farm. Another makes fruit cakes and ships them all over the world. They worship in the church, often Evangelical, where they were baptized, married, and will be buried with their classmates and clients. Jack holds client appreciation nights at his hunting lodge. They may not shoot that many deer or wild pigs, but they have a lot of fun. Jack jokes that he gets the pictures and sells tons of insurance that way.
Your clients, Ruth Ann, I assume, are more highly educated on average, in fancier schools. They live in CA, NY, Boston, or Santa Fe, VT, Denver. They are more likely to consider themselves cosmopolitan. They read the New Yorker, and may speak in language that is politically correct. They may not own a hot tub, but they have heard of Esalen. They want their consciousness raised and opened. They think change starts inside us. Few carry an active hunting license. They do not use "Patriarch" as a compliment or expression of respect. They like to get together in small groups and hug each other to bond into what they call a community, before they jet back to their home. They are familiar with Whale Chants. They do not consider themselves pagans, but have weird rituals when they get together involving stones, waters from around the world, and other objects representing Mother Earth. They may go to a Christian Church, but as one would go to a movie or play, to check it out, and have an uplifting experience, or a sociological field trip.
Both groups have values. Red values here; Blue values there. Both help clients plan around values, but the values of Jack's clients are sometimes antithetical to those of Ruth Ann's. When the two groups get around each other, they may be uncomfortable, silent, or fall into contention. Ruth Ann's clients consider Jack a macho vulgarian. They find him coarse and say he is "insensitive." Jack know this and resents it deeply.
Ruth Ann's clients may well be the daughters, sons, spouses, divorced spouses, and grandchildren of "Mr. Big," the target client for Jack. They are the limousine liberals their parents and grandparents feared they would become. Much of work Jack does is with business owners who are scared witless that their kids will become hot tubbing liberals, with some Buddhist mindset. Jack shows Dad how to pass on the family values along with the valuables, keeping the kids in the home town, working the business, going to the same Church they were born in. If the kids do become limousine liberals, or marry someone of their own sex, or lose their faith in God, Jack may help Dad disenfranchise them and give the money to a good faith-based charity instead. Ruth Ann, I assume, reads new age psychology books for inspiration. Jack's client's read "The Ultimate Gift," Reader's Digest, the Bible, particularly Revelations, and listen to talk radio.
Jack has 25 years of financial services experience. He is an expert in estate planning and business exit strategies. He is good friends with the top estate planning attorneys in town and with the CPAs. After 20 years in financial services, he got himself trained as a Legacy Wealth Coach by The Legacy Companies. He was exposed to thought leaders like Paul Schervish. He learned a more open-ended and humane process of guided discovery. Now, he is able to form more rapport with clients and to build financial and estate plans that take family vision and values more fully into account. He wants to be, and often is, the client's Trusted Advisor. He convenes and runs the client's planning team. He runs family meetings to help Dad pass his values and his silent wife's values on to the children (or else). He does not take kindly to having his recommendations second guessed by a Wealth Coach (so-called) who knows zip about money, and makes trouble by getting the heirs or spouse all worked up about how their voices have not been heard, and how Dad is, basically, over-controlling. Jack is not happy having unconscious incompetents, like Ruth Ann, at the planning table. He does not want to work around confident ignorance.
The financial services business does sometimes marginalize Ruth Ann's clients (spouse's, heirs). And the financial services business does marginalize Wealth Coaches who are really Life Coaches, who get into conversations about the money and its "meaning." We don't see the need for that, since we have a) the technical expertise and b) have or can get the training in the "soft skills."
I know the polemical remarks above may give off some sparks, but we are among friends here. We (Ruth Ann Harnisch, Tracy Gary, and others) are all truly trying to understand our diverse field and to see how we can make a constructive contribution to those we coach and train, across the political divides, across the disciplines, across the generations, inclusive of both women's voices and men's. Ruth Ann, to keep the conversation going, I am happy to have you link to this post, or cut and paste it into your Coaching Commons. Perhaps we go along others will join in.
Excellent exchange between Paul Brest and William Schambra at a Philanthropy Roundtable meeting. Their topic is strategic philanthropy. Paul is for logic models connecting grants with results. Bill is for treating local people with respect, relying on their rooted understandings, and putting money into those local leaders and their practical, small scale, local efforts.
I want, as a literary type, to draw attention to something that may seem secondary or even unfortunate, but which may actually be of the essence. Bill's tone verges on resentment particularly in his opening sentences. Paul is as unflappable as any well educated carpetbagger come South to staighten out the knuckledragging locals, with their ages old stupdity, their Snopes-like commitment to grubby folkways, and their religious zealotry, xenophia, and overall backwardness. Paul knows that logic models are not going to arise organically in the spare soil of these desolate towns. The troglodytes who live there can't hardly spell.
Now the above is not the text; it is the subtext, or a caricature of it. I am sensitive, even overly sensitive, to the body language and tone because I have (after a fine Ivy education) lived in AL, GA, and TX for going on 20 years. That tone of resentment, of being rankled, aggrieved, and fed up is a tone I have heard here often. I have had locals flinch in my presence, because they know, or think they know, from the first Yankee-sounding syllable that I hold them in secret contempt.
"Do you know the difference between a Yankee and a damned Yankee?" I was asked in Estill, SC, within eye's reach of Sherman's candles (old chimneys left standing by Sherman when he burned the town and had the women dance barefoot in the ashes). The answer I was told with a significant glare is, "A damned Yankee comes South and stays." I said, "OK." Then the man pointed to a dilapidated brick department store.
"See that loft up there?" "Yes, I said. "That," he said his voice shaking with resentment, "is where the hippies stayed when they came here to straighten us all out. You were a hippy, Boy?" I said, "Look, Mister, I am just here to sell insurance. Need any?" And then we both laughed. We were both pariahs, I even more than he.
I don't identify with the Old South, but I don't identify with the carpetbaggers either. I generally think people can solve their own problems, that the most effective solutions are created by those closest to the problem, and that ordinary people, with or without money or education, deserve respect. I share Bill's irritation at the know it alls from Corporate Headquarters, the Gummint, or a Foundation, who act like they know better than the locals because they have an MBA, a better suit, a friggin logic model that any moron without an MBA can see will never work because the situation is not Newtonian, but dynamic, and the MBA has only pumped in 3 variables, when the real world has 3,000 that impact this situation. The locals have lived with those variables and have them in their blood. But the bozos and bigshots from HQ, are too smart and too shot in the rear with their own self-importance to listen. They wouldn't be where they are if weren't smarter than us, so why should they listen?
You can hear the simmering resentment for yourself on talk radio.
I would imagine that in a debate Schambra is going to lose to Paul. The first rule of debating is not to let your opponent get your goat. Paul is utterly professional, educated, imperturable, above the fray, a former college professor lecturing the less well read. He is the voice of reason, addressing the voice of barely bridled emotion. He is not going to dirty his hands setting Bill straight. Let Bill strangle in his own spit.
Let it be said that in certain respects the Snopses do need to be refabricated. But it will take more than a civil war, carpetbaggers, hippies on buses, a logic model, a Hewlett Foundation grant, or Barack Obama to do it. Real Americans never surrender. The battle flag may be folded, but the culture war will not end this side of the Rapture.
And so it goes.
Obama wants change. Here are some fundamental changes he might consider, from C.A. Fitts. If properly publicised they might well garner bi-partisan support. The big losers are the Wall Street fat-cats, but they already have their bailout bonuses and should not much complain.
William Schambra of Hudson Institute's Bradley Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society writes of the failure of conservative funders:
There are no big ideas, no quick fixes that can solve conservatism's problem, inasmuch as it arises from the vanishingly small minority position held by the right within the professions that shape American public policy. We will soon see if conservative foundations still have what it takes for that kind of effort.
Presumably, Bill is addressing conservative funders to motivate them to give more, do more, to find and fund a saving remnant, as the Obama people come to town, flushed with victory, and full of proposals for government intervention. I would settle for the rule of law, and a restoration of the Bill of Rights. Does that make me a radical, a conservative, a patriot, a traitor? A dreamer, probably.
To Whom it May Concern
Gifthub is an immortal work of art in theMenippean Tradition,written in a Padded Cell (he calls it a Dumpster for obvious reasons) in a state of shock by Phil Cubeta, Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, under an alias, or alter ego, The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage...... More....
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