When Tom, a successful member of Vancouver’s arts community, connected with his current advisor, who is a licensed insurance broker, it turned out to be a great match. But when the broker—who has expertise in financial planning, but works with third-party firms to manage client investments—decided to change portfolio managers, Tom worried that he would be forced to choose between closing his Canada Gives Foundation account or losing his trusted insurance advisor. That was until the broker explained the flexibility of Canada Gives donor advised funds.
Like so many philanthropists, Tom became deeply committed to giving back after opening his Canada Gives Foundation account about eight years ago. His ability to support a range of causes in a strategic way—in the arts community and beyond—turned into a joyful focal point for himself and his family. They became particularly attached to the idea of creating meaningful change and creating a lasting charitable legacy across generations, while being able to actively (and repeatedly) quantify and amplify that impact.
Tom has long valued the feedback, reporting, administrative support and philanthropic advisory aspects of our service, while he embraced the donor advised fund model as a simplified entry point when he began his philanthropic journey. Losing that foundation account would have been extremely disappointing for his entire family, especially if it occurred simply as the result of a desire to change portfolio managers. And equally important, he wanted to keep the relationship with his insurance advisor, who incorporated philanthropic tax and estate planning strategies into his wealth planning.
A flexible option
Here’s the good news: As Tom discovered, a Canada Gives Foundation account is flexible, fully portable and focused on supporting the choices of the donor who established the fund. The donated assets can be managed by an investment firm of the philanthropist’s choosing, or a manager referred by their advisor —the choice is theirs. And changes can be made by the donor’s advisor without losing the relationship with either of them. That may not be the case with donor advised funds offered by the major banks, or by in-house dealers. In those cases, the DAF is a proprietary in-house program, owned and managed by that financial institution and investment options are limited. Canada Gives Foundation accounts offer the flexibility to choose and change managers or portfolios, while retaining their primary advisor relationship. And if their primary advisor changes firms, the Canada Gives Foundation account can be transferred to his/her new firm.
For advisors, a Foundation account not only delivers added value to their clients in the form of tax, estate and philanthropic planning benefits, it also helps the advisor build longer-lasting relationships with the valued client, and often their family, as well. With a Canada Gives donor advised fund, their client has complete flexibility, while the advisor has the freedom to change portfolios, managers and dealers; advisors can then do what they do best, meeting their clients’ evolving financial needs, delivering improved results and enhancing their own customer service offering.
Why did we build maximum flexibility and portability into our model? Because our mandate is to channel as much funding as possible into the non-profit sector. Our goal is to empower philanthropists and their independent financial advisors to maximize that great work. The fact that Canada Gives philanthropists gifted approximately $20 million to the charitable sector in 2020—during an extraordinarily challenging pandemic year, no less—is evidence that our approach is working.
Taking the complexity out of philanthropy
We believe that it’s our job to support donors any way we can—to work from the client’s perspective, in other words. That means setting the stage for them to consolidate accounts or change wealth managers, for example, yet still maintain their Canada Gives Foundation account. Our goal is to simplify their life, remove the complexity that can come with some philanthropic structures—think private foundations—and offer effective options that enhance the experience of giving back. That helps ensure they spend more time focusing on steering their generosity in a preferred direction, while leaving the administrative details to us to manage.
Independent financial advisors can rest assured knowing that we’re on their side, as well. By making it easy for them to support their clients and provide effective financial planning and wealth management services—tailored to their business model—they can operate with certainty and properly serve their clients. And if they change their dealer/broker, our accounts are fully portable and can move with them.
In the end, our Foundation account holders and their advisors win, but perhaps most importantly, the real benefit goes to the charities that continue to have their needs funded by a robust system of philanthropic generosity. That’s the kind of transformative outcome Canada Gives was founded to achieve.
The Canada Gives Team