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Are You Scared to Talk to Your Clients About Charitable Giving?

By Jack Surgent, CPA
There is an embarrassing fact that CPAs don’t like to talk about: many of our wealthy closely-held business owner clients give very little to charity.  While you may think that this reflects negatively on the character of the client, don’t jump to that conclusion.  The truth is that most of these wealthy clients are charitably-minded; however, they want to be thoughtful about their giving, and they are so busy trying to run their business that they simply decide not to get involved.
This is where the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) can be the perfect vehicle for your clients.  Simply put, a DAF allows clients to donate now and get the full tax benefit for the current year, but decide later exactly how and to which charitable organization(s) to allocate the funds.  It’s like a charitable savings account: make contributions as often as you like, and when you are ready, make grants to organizations of your choice.
Advice from you, the CPA or financial advisor, is critical here.  For example, your client may have sold their business during the past year and wants to explore the idea of charitable giving, but feels too stressed at the end of the year to make an informed decision about where their contributions should go.  Don’t be afraid to initiate this conversation and bring up the DAF as a potential option.  Your client will reap the tax advantages now, your client’s charities will benefit later, and your relationship with your client will ultimately be strengthened.

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