Giving is Good For You, Why Canada Should be Bothered to Give More
An experiment using magnetic resonance imaging on the brain activity of people choosing to give to charity, found that there was activity in the “reward centre” of the brain – the same part that is stimulated by sex and good food. If that isn’t a good enough reason to give then I don’t know what is. Seriously though, the results of this experiment should come as no surprise. People give because it feels good; they are honoured to be asked and thrilled to give, not simply because it is the right thing to do but because giving makes the donor glow.
One is reminded of the phrase, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. We appear to know much more about the motivations for giving, especially why rich people give, than we do about how to encourage those who do not give. We could surmise a number of reasons for those who currently choose not to give. For example, they may never have experienced any form of generosity in their lives, are simply too selfish and ‘not wired’ to give, are financially risk averse, have not yet had a life-changing experience (which might encourage them to give) or, they simply have not been asked to give by anyone, in the right way at the right time, for the right thing.
So how can advisors to the wealthy encourage people to give in the first place and encourage others to give more?
How to raise the topic with clients
You can just ask the basic giving question: “Are there any charitable interests you would like to support?” or “Have you supported charities in the past?”
Or you can prepare the ground. Before a meeting, send a list of issues you want to discuss and include the giving question. This allows clients to consider the idea ahead of time and ensures that the question is not overlooked.
If you are talking about giving during your client’s lifetime, you might ask:
•What role has philanthropy played in your family? What role would you like it to play? What value would it be to your children and grandchildren?
•Do you want to involve your family or your friends in your giving? If so, in what way? How involved should they be? What do you (not) want to happen?
•Warren Buffett said, “Parents should leave children enough money so they would feel they could do anything but not so much that they could do nothing.” Is that something you can identify with?
•If you are talking about your client’s retirement, when clients may worry about having enough for a secure future, you might say:
•If you’re interested, perhaps we could try making your money work well for you while also helping charities that matter to you?
If you are talking about your client’s will, you might ask one or two of the following questions:
•have you thought of leaving something in your will for charity?
•Are you giving to charity now and would you like this to continue after your death?
•Do you think your family shares your personal values? What are these? Have you discussed them together?
•Do you wish to pass your values on? Could philanthropy be a good way of doing this?
•How do you think your children would react if you left something to charity?
•It’s not a happy thought, but have you thought what you would like to happen to your assets if your
Adapted from Philanthropy-Impact.org