Watch a recording of the full panel conversation. 

Philanthropic planning can and should be a positive experience that brings together a team: multigenerational family members, financial and legal advisors, and, a knowledgeable philanthropic partner like the Cambridge Community Foundation, according to the experts who spoke at “Smart Giving,” a panel presented by our Professional Advisors Council (PAC) on May 5. We express deep gratitude to our panelists, our PAC, and our generous event sponsors, Cambridge Trust and Hemenway & Barnes, LLP, and we’re delighted to share a few key takeaways from this engaging conversation that may help professional advisors and donors alike. And if you missed the live event, you can watch the recording anytime on our youtube channel (linked above).

Start by understanding your giving motivation – and your family’s! 

Jennifer Pline, executive vice president and head of wealth management at Cambridge Trust, spoke to the power of asking questions to understand her clients’ motivations in establishing a planned gift, whether it’s about leaving a legacy or ensuring support for a nonprofit they love, or the impact they hope to make. Her main advice? “Bring family into the conversation.” 

Jennifer, who also serves as our Board’s appointed trustee from Cambridge Trust, told a story of a couple in their seventies who holds an annual meeting every Thanksgiving with their kids and grandkids to plan together how to spend charitable funds.  

“Young kids started to understand charitable giving, and as they got older, they got more sophisticated about where to spend the money,” said Jennifer. “It became a Thanksgiving family tradition and the family also established a philosophy around what to do with their wealth.” 

Wendy Weiss, an expert financial advisor at Weiss Financial Advisors, LLC, added that donor advised funds (DAFs) can make a great family charitable plan and giving mechanism. 

“DAFs are easy to work with to create charitable legacies,” Wendy said, suggesting the community foundation as an amenable home for a DAF. “The Cambridge Community Foundation is willing to sit down with families, listen, and make funding suggestions based on the issues they’re interested in.” 

Build a philanthropic partnership with your community foundation 

The conversation was moderated by Beth Milkovits, vice president of private banking at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., PAC member, and Board member, who spoke to some of the benefits of using a community foundation as a philanthropic partner.  

“Use the Cambridge Community Foundation as a way to test out where you want to give and learn more about nonprofits,” said Beth. “A community foundation is a grantmaker and they get more asks than they can give to, so they offer a way for donors to fill some gap funding. It gives donors a way to say, ‘I’m interested in this field,’ (like economic stability, or children) and the community foundation can help identify where those donors can support.” 

Another advantage? Your family’s giving plans may change over time, and a community foundation can help you build a fund instrument that’s flexible enough to accommodate future shifts and future generations.  

“As philanthropy changes and people’s objectives change, the flexibility that a community foundation offers and the solutions that they provide are going to become even more relevant,” said Beth. 

Make philanthropic dreams come true 

As an experienced estate planner, Kristin Dzialo, a partner at Rubin & Rudman, LLP and our PAC co-chair, has seen the full spectrum of ways and assets that donors can leverage for charitable giving. She discussed the pros and cons to weigh between setting up a Charitable Remainder Trust or outright donating assets – from jewelry and artwork to stock and real estate property. She emphasized relying on your team to determine the best means and destination for your philanthropy. 

“Working with the community foundation doesn’t mean you have to give to Cambridge,” Kristin clarified. “They have the ability to work with individuals to make any of their philanthropic dreams come true.” 

For more information about giving through the Cambridge Community Foundation, please read more here.