Build Your Business by Being Charitable

One of the things I appreciate about working with advisors is your inclination to help others  – not just your clients, but also friends, family members, colleagues and your community.

Many of you move outside of your close-knit circles to help others who are less fortunate. People volunteer with the intention of helping others, but soon realize they too receive many benefits. One of the unintended benefits of being charitable is being exposed to new business opportunities.

Let's discuss a few ways to become involved.

Join a board of directors

If you serve on a board, you may find yourself surrounded by like-minded and successful individuals.  After a period of time, you become acquainted with one another on a more personal level.  This deepening of the relationship may lead to a long-standing friendship or business relationship.

Be sure your primary focus is always on the benefit of the charitable organization, keeping the possibility of conducting new business in the background.

One of my advisor clients was asked by a top client of his to join a board in support of special needs children and their families.  He is now looking into getting a designation to advise families on special needs issues.  This may end up being a worthwhile niche for him.

Before agreeing to be on a board, be sure the cause is something you can fully support since you will be dedicating time, resources and money to this organization.

Here is a script from one of my colleagues at Oppenheimer that can be used to open the door to a business relationship:

Mary, you know we run into each other all the time at these meetings (social events) and I just want you to know that if you ever have any financial or investment questions or need a second opinion, I would be happy to make myself and my team available to you.  However, our friendship is far more important to me than any business relationship we might develop, so I will rely on you to reach out to me if or when that need arises.  I just want you to know that the door is always open.

Find out what organizations your clients support

To deepen relationships with existing clients, discover what organization they support.  Ask how you can support that organization on their behalf.

At a minimum, you can make a donation to the organization in the client's name as a thank you or to honor a special event in the client's life.

Sponsor a table

One of the best ways to support an organization your client supports is to sponsor a table at a fundraising event.  Tell your client you will sponsor a table if the client is willing to fill the table with fun and interesting people.  This way, you support a cause that is important to your client while meeting some fun and interesting people.  An added bonus is that a portion of the table sponsorship may be tax deductible.  Check with your tax professional.

Invite your clients to join you

Clients are pleased to learn that their advisor is charitably inclined.

If you have an organization near and dear to your heart, send out a message to your clients inviting them to join you in support of the cause.  Whether you build houses for Habitat for Humanity, clean up the beach or lake in your area or make meals to deliver to shut-ins, let your clients know you would enjoy their company and support.  Be sure to let them know they are welcome to bring along family and friends.

Don't forget to include your involvement in your bio, and if compliant in your email footer.

Many companies outside of the financial services industry promote their charitable involvement on their letterhead, often including the logo of the organization they support.

If you are able to get your compliance department to allow this, consider doing this yourself.

Be genuinely interested

Don't be a phony about your interest in an organization.  People will eventually see through the deception.  Keep your reputation intact by getting involved in organizations you can fully support.

If you would like to become involved but don't know where to start, visit

Whatever you are doing now or decide to do in the future, make sure you enjoy yourself.

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