Assets & Charitable Planning
When working with donors or clients, it is important to understand the sources of funds which donors or clients use to make certain types of gifts. Typically, donors are using resources available through their annual disposable income to support ongoing needs of the organization. These come in the form of annual gifts or year-end gifts. They may also make special gifts for capital improvements, support building projects, auctions, or celebrations marking the organization's anniversary. However, when it comes to planned gifts, donors make their decisions based on their entire accumulated assets. That is, they are looking at their entire savings, business interests, retirement benefits, etc.
Charitable gift planning is the process of cultivating, designing, facilitating and stewarding gifts for charitable organizations. This process may include a variety of financial tools and techniques for giving. It also requires the assistance of one or more qualified specialists such as an estate planning attorney, retirement benefits specialist, financial advisor, wealth manager, trust specialist or insurance planner.
5 Challenges: Working with Asian American Donors
For development staff and advisors working with Asian Americans as donors, they may need to be sensitive about certain cultural, language and traditional barriers. Many of those in our community believe that donors or clients do not want to talk about estate, tax or charitable planning issues. While this is true to some extent, donors or clients also see us as a resource - professionals that can help them navigate through some complex issues.
1. New concepts. The concept of giving to charity when one is alive, is not new. However, the idea of including charity as part of one's estate planning is. In fact, the concept of formalized estate and tax planning is relatively new for those not born in the US. You will be exposing many new concepts and strategies to your donors or clients so compassion, patience and sensitivity in the presentation of these items are required.
2. Giving to a variety of causes. Many support educational institutions and scholarship programs because they value education. However, many Asian American donors also fund mainstream organizations such as hospitals, senior programs, and health and service organizations such as the American Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society. Therefore, when speaking to Asian American donors or clients about their charitable interests, it is important to include non-Asian and Asian charitable organizations.
3. Ethnic identification. Another challenge is that many Asian Americans identify first within their own ethnic group before identifying as Asian American. Generally, a Chinese will say they are Chinese before calling themselves Asian American. Therefore, when marketing to donors, the appropriate choice of words will be crucial. This ethnic identification may also depend on whether the donor or client is an immigrant or US born and the generation they are from.
4. Asian and pan-Asian causes. Some donors fund causes they identify with, i.e., Korean organizations, Chinese organizations, before funding pan-Asian programs and services. This may explain why we are seeing new foundations that cater to specific ethnic groups. The San Francisco Japantown Foundation and the Korean American Community Foundation in NY are examples of this new trend.
5. International giving. Another factor to consider is that many Asian American donors are interested in giving overseas. They may want to support charities in the country they were originally from since they still maintain ties there. In fact, many make frequent trips back to their homelands and have started businesses there. This trend may be reflected in the growing interest in diaspora philanthropy.
Of course, all these are generalizations as each donor should be treated as unique individuals - hence, the importance of getting to know your donors and understanding what matters to them.