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Listen Now! Philanthropy on the Rise: New Ways of Giving Back

This podcast explores recent increases in philanthropy, along with new ways of giving back that are worth considering.

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Let’s Talk About Wealth is a new podcast series that touches on compelling topics for families of wealth. Through stories and conversations with specialists from Wells Fargo Private Bank, we help listeners learn how others have discovered ways to make more of an impact with their wealth.

Host: Noah Thomsen

Guests:

Peter Thompson, Senior Regional Fiduciary Manager with Wells Fargo Private Bank

Maria Kildall, Senior Philanthropist with Wells Fargo Private Bank

Beth Renner, National Director, Philanthropic Services, for Wells Fargo Private Bank

Podcast Producer/Announcer: Caitlin Fenno

Podcast Transcript:

[Announcer]:

Investment and Insurance Products are Not Insured by the FDIC or Any Federal Government Agency, are Not a Deposit or Other Obligation of, or Guaranteed by, the Bank or Any Bank Affiliate, and are Subject to Investment Risks, Including Possible Loss of the Principal Amount Invested.

[Noah]:

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. The thing is, in this environment, people are taking action to create positive change and make a real impact. Welcome to Let’s Talk About Wealth, a podcast series from Wells Fargo Private Bank. I’m your host, Noah Thomsen.

Today, we’re going to talk about philanthropy. It’s on the rise. We’re seeing donors rethink their giving, looking to make a greater impact with their resources, and seeking clarity and guidance on how and where to focus that giving. As always, we will share what we know, what to expect, and ways others in these important situations find success.

My first guest is Peter Thompson, Senior Regional Fiduciary Manager with Wells Fargo Private Bank. Hello, Peter.

[Peter]:

Thanks for having me.

[Noah]:

So, making an impact with your wealth. This comes up a lot with clients of Wells Fargo Private Bank. Tell us—why is it so important?

[Peter]:

Well, when we sit down with clients and talk about their wealth, often I see a common theme. They want to hear how their wealth can enhance the well-being of not only their family, but the communities in the world.

[Noah]:

OK.

[Peter]:

They want their wealth to do more, to do good, and to make a greater impact.

[Noah]:

Could you tell us more about these talks and how you get these conversations started?

[Peter]:

There are really four ideas or questions that our talks center around. First, finding a shared purpose within the family. Is there something similar they all care about? Next, do they have core values in common? Then we ask about lifelong learning. Do they embrace that? And last, how is the communication within their family? Are they looking for ways to improve it?

[Noah]:

Do they respond well to those questions?

[Peter]:

Yes. We find their answers lay the foundation for how they decide to share their abundance of resources to help others.

[Noah]:

Interesting.

[Peter]:

It’s then that we can begin to work together, collaborating on how they want to bring their vision to life through their philanthropy and make their impact.

[Noah]:

What would you say your wealth clients, the wealth creators themselves, see as a big concern that could hinder that impact?

[Peter]:

Actually we did a survey not too long ago of clients, and one of the lead concerns was about engaging the next generation. We’re involving multiple generations in their philanthropy.

[Noah]:

So the survey revealed that they’re concerned about the next generations and how to get them more involved?

[Peter]:

Well, families are definitely unique. Every generation has new ideas, so it’s often hard to start these conversations. What helps is that we have philanthropic advisors across the country who work closely with these families to understand the dynamics at play between family members. We help them talk, share points of view, and land in a positive and productive place to move forward.

[Noah]:

OK, I get it. So this is a team sport. I mean, it sounds like your clients and their families get plenty of attention, guidance, and support from The Private Bank.

[Peter]:

Yes, you could say that. With that guidance, our clients really see how the dynamics of their family members—and their vision of philanthropy—can overlap and complement each other.

[Noah]:

I’m not as versed in this as you, but do you find, when people are planning their legacy and the impact they wish to make, it can often revert back to stories? Family stories?

[Peter]:

That happens a lot. Maybe there was a time when someone in the family had adversity in their life, and they were able to overcome it. And now, they want to help others do the same. Our philanthropic advisors find that facilitating these legacy story conversations can be extremely impactful for families. That’s where we see real breakthroughs in finding that great cause that a family may want to focus on. And by sharing these stories, families are often able to identify or reinforce the values they want to express through their philanthropy.

[Noah]:

Peter, thanks for the talk and letting our listeners get a glimpse into how philanthropy is being shaped and shared.

[Peter]:

Thank you. I’m glad I could help.

[Noah]:

OK. Time for a story—a story of philanthropy that no one in the family saw coming. Joining me now is Maria Kildall, Senior Philanthropic Specialist with Wells Fargo Private Bank. She brings to her clients 25 years of philanthropic experience, working with nonprofits and foundations as well as many generous donors. Hello, Maria.

[Maria]:

Hi, Noah. I think your listeners will find this story interesting.

[Noah]:

I think so, too. Please share.

[Maria]:

Well, like Peter mentioned, good communication in a family is a pretty important thing. In this story, the parents who created their wealth had established a philanthropic family foundation during their lifetimes, but they never spoke about it with their grown children. And so the family matriarch had passed away some years before her husband, and it wasn’t until shortly before he, the patriarch, died that his grown children learned that they were inheriting this foundation.

[Noah]:

Uh, hello! Surprise!

[Maria]:

Exactly. The second generation had to mobilize quickly.

[Noah]:

So let me get this straight. They had no idea the foundation was in place.

[Maria]:

Nope, none. But they stepped up, and they committed to honoring the legacy of their mom and dad.

[Noah]:

Sounds very mindful, very respectful of them.

[Maria]:

Well, now the third generation is coming along, and they’re young adults. One third-generation representative comes from each of the second-generation family lines. So that’s four cousins in total who are now attending the foundation meetings with their parents to observe, listen, and learn as much as they can.

[Noah]:

And how’d that go?

[Maria]:

I think what you’re seeing now is that the third generation is grappling with an interesting question that we hear periodically, and this is the notion of how to continue honoring the wishes of their grandparents along with the fact that they live in a very different time now than when their grandparents first started the foundation. So they want to both honor the legacy of their grandparents, but they also want to make sure they’re having a present-day impact.

[Noah]:

And can you do both? What do you think?

[Maria]:

Well, yes you can. You know, first my advice to wealth creators is to know that it’s really important to be open and talk with your family as you begin to embark on something that may exist beyond your lifetime—or that is your intention. Part of these early conversations is really to build a shared understanding and commitment to the mission and the vision of the foundation. If your legacy is to be understood, served, and be part of something that’s bigger than yourself, then it’s really, really important to bring in the people who are going to be carrying that message forward—and that they also feel ownership around that.

[Noah]:

I see what you mean. Maybe this story is really about how younger generations are growing up and growing more connected with each other, and more connected with the complex world they all share.

[Maria]:

I’d agree with that. There are so many issues and causes that philanthropists are taking on these days. I’ll tell you—it’s inspiring to be a part of these discussions.

[Noah]:

Thanks, Maria, for sharing that story.

So next I’m thinking, if only there were a guide to help clients at The Private Bank as they embark on their philanthropic journey. I’m joined now by Beth Renner, National Director of Philanthropic Services for Wells Fargo Private Bank, who may hold the answer.

[Beth]:

Hi, Noah. It’s good to hear your voice. And before I answer that question, Noah, I just want to mention a phrase that I think sums up so much about that journey. And the phrase is: While philanthropy serves many, all philanthropy is personal. And putting great wealth into action for charitable purposes is really deeply personal. So, yes, we do have a new guide. We’re excited about it. It’s based on the thoughts, concerns, and really the critical thinking we’ve heard from our wealth clients over the past five years.

[Noah]:

That’s great. And what’s it called?

[Beth]:

It’s called the Philanthropic Journey. And what’s really interesting about it, Noah, is that it’s very interactive. The format really helps our clients look at an issue or a decision and explore it a bit more. They may say, “Hey, this topic really resonates with me,” or “I want to have more dialogue about this.” And the philanthropic specialists and the wealth team work through the topics with them, or through the next decision that needs to be made.

[Noah]:

It’s kind of reassuring, it would seem, to hear from other people of wealth who’ve been through the same journey—about what they learned, what they found hard, how their families reacted. All kinds of unknowns made clearer.

[Beth]:

Yeah, we learned some amazing things when we were listening to our clients. And you know, the Philanthropic Journey is really intended to help you get to your answer. What do you want to see as your legacy?

[Noah]:

Beth, I believe there’s another aspect of the journey to philanthropy that you wanted to share? It’s about an inner trigger. Talk about that for our listeners who may not have felt it yet.

[Beth]:

Absolutely. So sure. There’s a real human psychology that’s embedded in philanthropy. And Richard Davidson, who’s a neuroscientist, has done a lot of study on the psychology of human behavior. And what’s so interesting is that there are four brain tracks that are dedicated to a person’s overall well-being. Now, Noah, just stick with me on this idea.

[Noah]:

Oh, I’m right there with you.

[Beth]:

So one of the brain tracks is dedicated to altruistic behaviors. So the act of giving and sharing? It’s natural for us to want to engage in it. We’re programmed that way. And I’ve had enough conversations over the years to know that there’s something that happens inside of you psychologically when you’ve made that decision to share your resources with others, and it’s really when you have that sense of abundance, that “I have enough, and now I want to share with others in a meaningful way.”

[Noah]:

Wow. I have to say, that must be an amazing revelation. What a feeling.

[Beth]:

It is. As an advisor in philanthropy, I find it exciting, because the client is no longer asking questions or pondering. Instead, they start saying, “This is the difference I want my resources to make.” It’s really a moving and quite powerful experience.

[Noah]:

Sounds like one of the best parts of your job. Thanks, Beth, for sharing that with us today.

[Beth]:

Thank you for having me.

[Noah]:

And with that sense of good washing over us, I want to thank you for listening. Join us again for more inside stories and candid conversations on Let’s Talk About Wealth. If you’d like to learn more about ways to make a greater impact with your wealth, check out episode two of our series, where we talk about Social Impact Investing. Until next time, this is Noah Thomsen. So long.

Music

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