Helping clients develop a framework for their philanthropic giving.

People are increasingly sophisticated when it comes to philanthropy. Ten years ago, discussions focused on ‘structuring’ options and how a family should go about investing their specially set-aside philanthropic ‘pot’ of money. These days, we advise families to be more strategic, adopting a similar approach to philanthropy as they would any other investments.

The first thing we do with clients is to define their philanthropic objectives and priorities. These vary hugely and can be deeply personal. Some families are looking to create a lasting legacy while others simply want to give back to the communities that contributed to their own success. The next step is to work out a strategy for achieving those objectives. We think about this in the same way we think about an overall wealth plan: by asking a series of specific questions, many of which they will not have thought about or discussed before.

Impact and understanding what constitutes impactful giving for an individual or family is vital to ensuring that their philanthropic strategy endures. This helps inform the detail of the strategy – what causes to support, the size of those organisations and where they operate geographically.

Many clients want to support a cause which will have a positive impact on their local community. This is something that has increased since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. Others, may want to focus on an entire country, region or indeed the whole world. Dealing with an international client base means that we are primed to work with families seeking a global impact from their philanthropic strategy.

Although some families have clear ideas about the specific charities they would like to support, many don’t. We can use our network to help locate and contact the organisations operating in their areas of interest. Clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their pre-grant due diligence and we support clients in facilitating this. Many of the questions a potential donor might ask are similar to those you might ask in relation to any commercial investment opportunity, adapted to the size and sophistication of the charity in question.

Families are evolving in how they measure their philanthropic efforts as they seek to achieve greater impact. Often the most productive partnership for both the charity and donor is that of a multi-year relationship. If this is the case, ongoing monitoring is highly recommended to ensure continued alignment. We support our families in understanding what this should look like in dialogue with their chosen charities.

Each family is different but whatever the philanthropic vision, we work closely with our clients to help them create the positive, lasting legacy they want to leave.

Kate Boswell is a Partner in the Wealth Planning team of Stonehage Fleming. She brings over 10 years’ experience as a trusted adviser to a wide client base, specialising principally in providing strategic and integrated investment, financial and tax planning to entrepreneurs and private equity professionals.