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Finding potential charitable gift opportunities for clients can deepen the conversation about broader overall charitable planning for them.  There are a number of areas to point to that will help you recognize those giving opportunities that your clients may not have suspected were available.


They can be expected, as in the exercise of corporate stock options, or unexpected, such as winning the lottery.  There is an economic impact to these events, but also an emotional impact that might be even greater.

Knowing how to solve the economic issue is only one factor in discussing options for sudden wealth.  Understanding the emotional upheaval and the possible reactions is the true key to being helpful to the client.

The possible sources of the new liquid wealth also present different charitable planning opportunities.


The sale of a closely-held business which represents a unique set of circumstances.  For most business owners it is the culmination of a lifetime of effort and also the transition to a new phase of life that is often not well prepared for.  The business usually embodies much of the owner’s self-image and identity which can make the sales process more challenging.

Planning to maximize the charitable aspects (and minimizing the taxes) of a sale before it happens is ideal for the owner and the advisors involved.

The challenging part is getting there in time before there is any form of offer and acceptance made.  If that happens then you can examine multiple charitable strategies such as the charitable stock bailout, a charitable ESOP, pooled income funds, a charitable remainder trust or even a simple donor-advised fund.

An observation I’ve made over the many years of doing this type of planning for business owners is that during their working lives they do everything in their power to avoid income taxes, and then when they sell the businesses completely ignore tax-saving options and often waste millions of dollars.

This is not their intention.  There is no one involved to tell them otherwise.  The accountant who helps them with their business and personal taxes is generally ill-equipped to handle charitable tax planning strategies on the exit from the business.


If you don’t already have business owners as clients you might consider one of the training programs on exit planning gave by either our Exit Planning Institute or the Business Enterprise Institute.  Even if you don’t become an exit planner, being knowledgeable about the aspects of a complete exit strategy can be vital to the integration of the charitable planning aspects.

You may also want to join a mergers-and-acquisitions group like the Alliance of Mergers and Acquisitions Advisors.  If nothing else, you get the opportunity to associate with people in the stream of deals that are happening.

According to BEI, 79% of business owners want to be out of their businesses in ten years or less and only 15% have even talked to an advisor about their exit plan.  There is a tremendous opportunity for a charitable advisor to be part of a large number of those exits.

To download a complete version of Opportunity Recognition, go here.

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