New Survey from Foundation Source Reveals How Financial Advisors Can Better Support Their Philanthropic Clients

Categories: Press Releases

FAIRFIELD, CT—November 13, 2015—Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive services for private foundations, is sharing key findings from a recent survey of high-net-worth private foundation donors. Sent in October 2015 to a subset of its 1,200 private foundation clients, the survey collected feedback about how donors engage (or fail to engage) their financial advisors around their philanthropy. Download Survey

Results were tabulated from 167 respondents, the majority of whom have private foundations with less than $50 million in assets. Foundations of this size account for 98% of the more than 90,000 private foundations in the U.S. The complete survey from Foundation Source can be downloaded at:

According to Robert Chartener, Foundation Source CEO: “Professional wealth advisors often ask us whether there’s more they could be doing to support their philanthropic clients. This survey asked some compelling questions that could inform their services.”
Top survey findings include:

• Respondents tend to prize opinions of their colleagues about philanthropy over professional advisors. Respondents said that if they want advice, they prefer to get it from a “philanthropic peer” (34.7%). The second most popular response was “no one” (28.1%). For those who entertained the idea of seeking advice from a professional, their preferences were: philanthropic consultant (16.2%), financial advisor (11.9%), accountant (5.4%), and attorney (3.9%).

• Respondents do not necessarily think of their financial advisor as a philanthropic resource. Over half said they had never sought philanthropic advice from their financial advisors (53.9%). When asked why not, the majority answered, “I don’t need my advisor’s help with this.” (65.1%). Other reasons included, “didn’t occur to me” (18.1%); “not confident in my advisor’s expertise” (8.4%); and “he or she is more comfortable dispensing technical advice” (8.4%). A possible interpretation of this data is that respondents don’t commonly perceive their financial advisors as potential sources of philanthropic advice.

• Nevertheless, in the coming year respondents might consult with a financial advisor on a range of topics related to their philanthropy. Despite the above finding, survey-takers indicated that they might tap their advisor about the following topics in the next year:

– Engaging the next generation in philanthropy (30.2%)
– Impact investing, i.e., investments made for their social impact as well as their financial returns (25.0%)
– Advice about philanthropic goals (24.6%)
– Assistance with a major gift (21.6%)
– Information on causes, charitable organizations, or projects (16.5%)

• Financial advisors may not be meeting their clients’ needs for advice. Survey-takers said their advisors “should be better informed” about an array of philanthropic topics. At the top of their list:

– Suggesting impact investments (30.9%)
– Educating the next generation on philanthropy (28.8%)
– Facilitating a major gift (25.2%)
– Identifying effective charitable organizations (16.6%)
– Helping shape our philanthropic agenda (13.0%)

• There are simple ways for financial advisors to raise their profiles with philanthropic clients and effectively meet their needs. The most desired assistance focused on education and training: 51.0% said they would appreciate receiving “investment management training;” 31.5% said that they would like their advisors to suggest “philanthropic conferences and educational opportunities,” and 20.7% would like them to recommend “books and resources on philanthropy.”

Others said they’d appreciate having their financial advisor “take the lead,” around next-generation development including: mentoring younger family members (42.3%) and launching a junior board (6.31%). 28.8% would like to see their advisors “coordinating board/family meetings;” 10.8% would like them to “organize site visits,” and 9.0% would welcome help, “facilitating community service projects or philanthropic activities.”

According to Page Snow, Chief Philanthropic and Marketing Officer at Foundation Source, “Although donors have traditionally not reached out to their financial advisors about their giving, there clearly is an opportunity for advisors to step in and proactively deliver more value in this area.”

Download Survey

About Foundation Source (
Foundation Source is the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive support services for private foundations. The company’s administrative services, online foundation management tools, and philanthropic advisory services provide a complete outsourced solution, including the creation of new foundations. Our clients supply the vision; we provide everything else.

Now in our second decade, Foundation Source provides its services to more than 1,200 family, corporate, and professionally staffed foundations, of all sizes, nationwide. We work in partnership with wealth management firms, law firms, and accounting firms, as well as directly with individuals and families. Foundation Source is headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, South Florida, and Washington, D.C.