Help Your Clients with a Values-Based Approach to Philanthropy

CICF’s philanthropic advising services are one key feature that sets our donor-advised funds apart. The CICF Professional Advisor Leadership Council (PALC) got first-hand experience with the kinds of exercises we take individuals and families through in order to become strategic and intentional philanthropists. Rob MacPherson, vice president for development and strategy, worked with PALC members as a group to identify their values and interest areas and to then find common themes among all group members. Using those common themes, they crafted a mission statement to guide their grant making focused on empowering disadvantaged youth in Marion County and removing barriers to educational achievement. Once their mission statement was in place, Clayton De Fur, senior community leadership officer, and Brittany Rayburn, director of development for Hamilton County Community Foundation, identified potential grantees whose work fit well with the mission. After much discussion, the group selected Starfish Initiative as the recipient of a $2,500 grant from CICF made on PALC’s behalf. Starfish Initiative inspires, encourages, and prepares promising, economically disadvantaged students for college and career success by pairing economically disadvantaged high school students one-on-one with college educated mentors.

CICF staff lead our PALC members in values exerciseThis Values, Interests, Purpose (VIP) exercise is just one example of the kinds of activities that CICF’s expert staff utilize when working with donors and their families. The goal is to transition philanthropy from being primarily reactive—“one-off” checks to not-for-profits as a reaction to someone or something—to being primarily mission-driven and strategic. By identifying what matters most to our fund holders and aligning philanthropy with those values and interests, charitable decisions become easier, more impactful and more enjoyable.

The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation highlighted the importance of values-based charitable planning conversations between high-net-worth clients and their advisors. Nearly all advisors surveyed (91%) believe that these discussions are important to have with their clients, and 80% reported that they make it their regular practice to ask clients about their interest in charitable giving. The majority of the high-net-worth clients surveyed (57%) believe that their advisor should play an important role in helping them with their philanthropy; indeed, these clients report that their advisors are second only to their spouse or partner as their most valuable source of information about philanthropy. Furthermore, high-net-worth clients want to have these conversations in a meaningful way with their advisors early in the relationship. Clients reported dissatisfaction in these conversations, however, because the majority of advisors (58%) continue to emphasize the technical aspects of philanthropy (e.g., tax considerations or wealth planning) instead of the clients’ philanthropic goals or passions.

When you partner with CICF and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Hamilton County Community Foundation, you don’t have to be the philanthropic expert. Once you initiate the philanthropic conversation, we can be a resource for you to help your clients accomplish their philanthropic goals in a way that aligns with their values and interests. (And thanks to our outside investment policy, the financial advisor can retain management and investment of assets donated to CICF donor-advised funds.) Our values-based approach to strategic philanthropy in addition to our technical expertise ensure that your clients receive the comprehensive philanthropic services that go beyond tax savings and estate planning and speak to who they are and what is most meaningful to them.

Interested in learning more about how CICF works with donors to effectuate strategic, impactful philanthropy?


Mary Stanley
Director and Legal Counsel for Charitable Gift Planning
317.634.2423 x319

Sarah Weaver
Senior Gift Planning Advisor
317.634.2423 x510

Brittany Rayburn
Director of Development at Hamilton County Community Foundation
317.634.2423 x302

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