Recap: March Chapter Meeting

Charitable Planning Strategies, Words That Work
Joint Meeting with Planned Giving Professionals

A unique joint membership meeting of FPA Minnesota and the Minnesota Planned Giving Council (MPGC) with an exceptionally effective speaker drew a large audience and generated a frenzy of networking about charitable planning among those present. Russell James III, J.D., Ph.D., CFP proved to be ideally-suited to provide two sessions on distinctly different aspects of effectively engaging in charitable planning discussions with our clients Dr. James started his professional life practicing law and specializing in Estate Planning; became a Development Officer (like approximately 40% of those in attendance), then a college president (aka “Chief Fundraiser”) and then Director of Graduate Studies in Charitable Planning in the largest college Financial Planning program in the country. He has a passion for his subject matter and this audience found him engaging if not captivating.

Hour I: Time raced by as Dr. James, supported by excellent notes, PowerPoint and examples, led us through his “Top 10 Charitable Planning Strategies for Financial Advisors”. It is likely that every person in the room understood the benefits of using appreciated assets for gifting to charities. When Dr. James described his Strategy #1 (NEVER GIVE CASH) and used example after example of how to coach our clients on the benefits, this idea took on a whole different meaning and got all of us thinking about conversations we should be having with clients. And so it went through nine more solid planning strategies with effective examples and ideas on how to discuss the implementation of charitable planning strategies with our clients.

Hour II, “Words that Work: The phrases that encourage planned giving” provided more food for thought and made it clear why Dr. James chairs a Graduate Studies in Charitable Planning program. He is an acclaimed presenter at both Financial Planning as well as Planned Giving Conferences.

We learned about “Philanthropy as a synthetic family; a social act using the mechanisms of family bonding”, a concept which is supported by scientific research showing an increase in “oxytocin” a family bonding hormone, in the brain when we are engaged in the act of making gifts. The effectiveness of life stories and “tribute bequests” and the clear, positive impact of mentioning tax deductions when suggesting a gifting opportunity. We were reminded of the need to recognize that certain words (like “estate planning” or “life” insurance) can be real impediments in communicating effectively and that creativity is required i.e. “the oblique focus group”. This session was filled with data from academic surveys; all used very effectively. Dr. James will be presenting at the 2016 Minnesota Planned Giving Conference in the Twin Cities. He offered additional materials with an e-mail request to