Making the case

  • Author : Emma Turner
  • Date : June 2010
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma Turner is Director, Client Philanthropy at Barclays Wealth Private Bank

P hilanthropy advice is often given by many ‘unqualified’ people for free and this ‘counsel’ forms different parts of our everyday life.

There are the informal ‘water cooler conversations’ about how much to give a friend who is running the marathon. The more serious dinner party debates where everyone knows a great cause and gives a pitch as to why we should all support it. There is the internet, which has caused a boom of websites providing information that enables us to self-select charities and then there are the educational courses on becoming a better philanthropist or a more organised giver. Not to be forgotten are the professional fund-raisers employed to enlighten us as to their cause and hopefully engage our support. All of these are vital for the success of the third sector, as they are powerful tools to raise awareness, as well as much needed funds.

But what about the professional advisor? A person who is paid to give advice on philanthropy? How would this role fit into a business and what are the drivers for a firm to dedicate a full or part-time resource to this area? How is philanthropy integrated into a client service offering and how should it be positioned, both externally and internally?

New Philanthropy Capital has carried out two major pieces of research on this topic, which are well worth reading as they give a clear picture of the landscape, current status and thoughts for the future. In the latest one – published in March 2010 – entitled: ‘The business of philanthropy – building the philanthropy advice market’ they write about both the barriers to and the benefits of professional advice and conclude the research with the following:

‘We hope that the coming decade will see a significant rise in the provision of philanthropy advice from those who are so well placed to do so: clients’ trusted advisors. If the supply of advice grows, demand will be stimulated and clients will be able to give more effectively, ultimately helping charities to achieve more.’

In-house philanthropy advice is a new and growing marketplace and only a tiny handful of private banks currently have in-house advisors. However, there are also a number of independent advisors in operation and it is hoped by all involved that both groups will grow in the next few years in order to strengthen this nascent industry.

In November 2008 I was hired by Barclays Wealth UK & Ireland Private Bank as Head of Client Philanthropy. The reason for creating this new role was that the bank understood that clients need advice that extends to more than just managing financial assets. Through a philanthropic programme they can help clients identify the right structure, ensure giving aims are achieved, involve family to create an inter-generational legacy and develop their own philanthropic vision.

In order for a client philanthropy service to really work I believe there need to be some key foundation stones in place to underpin it.

Firstly, the firm itself needs to be a genuine corporate citizen. If you are going to support clients in personal areas, such as philanthropy, then it’s important that a company also ‘walks the walk.’ The offering then becomes a natural extension of what you are already doing for your other internal and external stakeholders.

Secondly it needs the buy-in and support of senior leadership. This way bankers (in my case) or other co-workers know this has endorsement from the top and is not just a nice idea that has no real substance or business value, and more importantly could damage relationships and reputation.

Thirdly, a decision has to be made on how to resource the service. It can be resourced in-house with a dedicated full or part-time headcount, or it can be entirely outsourced to external advisors; whether there is a strong case for this second option will depend on the company and its objectives.

However, the role should be truly embedded in the business with the cost absorbed so that the service is free to the client. This makes the service more acceptable to the client and is a real value add for the relationship. It makes initial conversations easier, as there is no worry about clocking up a ‘charity advice bill.’ It also enables the advisor to sit in a totally neutral place, working alongside the banker, with only the client’s best interests at heart; there is no buy or sell involved.

The range of service provided will depend on the level and skill of the resource, so it may vary. The intention at Barclays Wealth is that the service engages, educates and supports clients on their giving journey in four key areas:

1Identifying the right giving structure2Achieving the desired effect3Involving the family4Developing their vision

We supplement the offering through the use of key third party advisors1, which enables us to provide a comprehensive service and to achieve our aims and objectives. We also commission and produce research to provide greater insight into what the current thinking and practice is. Lastly, we arrange events for clients to learn more for themselves from other philanthropists and professionals in the field.

Finally, it has to be accepted by all that it will take time to build and deliver the service in order for it to become an accepted, useful and successful part of the business.

If all of the above can be incorporated into a truly holistic client service, it then paves the way for a market leading client proposition and subsequent business opportunity.

The key drivers are:

  • Demonstrate a genuine desire and ability to help your client in more personal areas
  • Deepen existing client relationships and develop new ones
  • Lead from the front in a new and growing marketplace
  • Enable PR opportunities across the private, corporate and third sectors.

Some of the direct business benefits could include:

  • New client engagement because of/ in part due to your philanthropy service
  • Charitable funds received from a client to be managed and used for personal philanthropy purposes
  • The client is more engaged due to increased advice and support in more personal areas
  • A new client is engaged via the use of third party advisors and/or intermediaries.

Go back to Philanthropy Advisor

Barclays Wealth uses: The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), Community Foundation Network (CFN), The Institute of Philanthropy and New Philanthropy Capital (NPC).


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