A project of the Council of Michigan Foundations
In 1995, the Council of Michigan Foundations’ (CMF) Improving Philanthropy Committee assisted The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), a Boston organization that educates donors about strategic philanthropy, in implementing a W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) grant. The grant supported TPI in developing materials for professional financial advisors in working with clients interested in philanthropy. Research showed that financial advisors were hesitant to address philanthropy with their clients, fearing it was unethical or unprofessional. All types of philanthropy were addressed, including direct giving, private foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs, and supporting organizations. The project served as a national model.
In collaboration, CMF and TPI conducted over 150 interviews with Michigan financial advisors to learn more about what types of resources would be most helpful, their current advising practices, and their commonly held perceptions about philanthropy. The resulting materials were tailored to each individual profession (i.e., estate planners, brokers, insurance agents, etc.), which allowed the information to be disseminated in a neutral, unbiased way. Financial advisors were empowered through this program to help their clients see the importance of philanthropy within their community and to guide their clients in developing a philanthropic plan for giving that matched their interests.