One of the easiest and most direct ways for advisors to give back to their communities is to provide pro bono financial planning services, and the Foundation for Financial Planning is set up to help them do exactly that.
“We are the only non-profit whose sole mission is to connect the financial planner to people in crisis or need,” said Foundation director Jon Dauphiné.
The organization enables advisors to provide free advice to groups such as wounded vets, active military service people, domestic violence survivors, people with serious medical diagnoses, and those with low incomes.
The Foundation has been deeply supported by 2014 Invest in Others Lifetime Achievement Award winner Alexandra Armstrong, principal of Armstrong Fleming & Moore Inc., who has has helped raise more than $10 million for the organization over the past two decades. Substantial support also comes from corporations and individual advisors.
Any advisor interested in pro bono work should first contact the local FPA chapter, Mr. Dauphiné said.
“Our typical model is to facilitate and fund a non-profit program. They will do the outreach and work with their local FPA chapter to bring in volunteers,” he said. “Chapters usually have relationships with non-profits.”
The Foundation also awards small grants to FPA chapters to fund events, such as Financial Planning Days that take place during Financial Planning Week.
“Working with an FPA chapter is how I first got involved [with pro bono work],” said 2015 Catalyst Award finalist Stacy Francis, President and CEO of Francis Financial.
Fourteen years ago, she set up her own charity, Savvy Ladies, which provides personal financial education to women, along with a free helpline staffed by volunteer certified financial planners.
“We’re always careful,” Ms. Francis said. “We’re not giving investment advice, but we’re helping them understand their goals, risk tolerance, when they need their money, etc. We’re teaching them ‘how to fish’ and the most important thing we do is educate them.”
Advisors can see great benefits from donating their expertise, she said.
“The number one thing people look for in advisors is trust, and this is showing that you care,” Ms. Francis said. “The more good work you do, the more it will come back to you in many ways. We volunteer together as a team. Pro bono is part of our culture and part of making people want to stay here and work here.”