Three Ways Financial Advisors Can Make a Difference at a Nonprofit Organization

Financial advisors are helpers by nature: in fact, talk to any advisor about their chosen profession, and chances are they’ll tell you they got into the business to help people. In addition to being naturally inclined toward altruism, those who work in this particular profession are also uniquely qualified to lend support to charities and nonprofits beyond simply donating funds. Read on to learn about three ways that financial advisors are making an impact in the nonprofit world:

1. Volunteering time and skills

Advisors are well-versed in financial planning and the markets, so serving on investment committees or helping charities establish and manage their budgets is a natural fit. But many financial advisors are also business owners or executives, and as such they know how to build and run an organization—skills that are highly transferable to the nonprofit sector.

Michael J. Nathanson, Chairman and CEO of The Colony Group and the recipient of IIO’s 2016 Catalyst Award, is the perfect example of a financial advisor whose leadership skills and strategic vision made a tremendous impact on a nonprofit organization: the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS). In 2013, Michael became Chairman of the NBTS board and launched a strategic planning process that shifted NBTS from a “passive” grant-funding organization to one that actively drives research through its own innovative scientific models, matching them with business and funding mechanisms.

Thanks in no small part to Michael’s vision, leadership and passion for the cause, NBTS has evolved into the largest nonprofit brain tumor organization in the country. Through partnerships with other leading organizations like Memorial Sloan Kettering and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the NBTS is pursuing the goal of making brain tumors a chronic, yet manageable disease by the year 2025.

2. Leveraging personal and professional networks

Financial advisors tend to be avid networkers who are actively involved in their communities. Outside of work, many belong to multiple organizations, from the local rotary club to volunteer groups and charities. Between their professional connections and their personal networks, financial advisors are great resources for nonprofits looking to recruit board members, sponsors, and/or event attendees.

2016 IIO Volunteer of the Year Mary Lou Arveseth of Financial Network in Draper, Utah exemplifies how a determined and passionate advisor can inspire others in the community to make a difference. Just a year after losing her own son to suicide, Mary Lou co-founded the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). In addition to recruiting, nominating and onboarding board members, Mary Lou recruited and led volunteer committees for fundraising events and programs, including the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks. At the 2015 event, about 4,000 people raised more than $100,000.

Mary Lou works tirelessly to partner with state offices, corporations, and community leaders to change the conversation about suicide and help individuals and families and crisis get much-needed support. In 2015, the AFSP recognized the chapter she co-founded as Chapter of the Year.

3. Spreading the word

Financial advisors are great brand ambassadors—wherever their personal and professional lives take them, they are eager to tell the stories of the causes and organizations they’re passionate about. Applying for an IIO award is another way that advisors can bring awareness and funds to their chosen nonprofits.

After being recognized by IIO in 2012, Global Community Impact Award recipient Scott Sweat estimates that the organization he works with, David’s Hope International, went from raising $100,000 a year to $250,000—thanks in large part to the visibility generated by the award. Ted Schwab, who won the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 for his work with Capital Partners for Education, describes the publicity generated by the award as “sensational”—and reports that hundreds of people reached out to congratulate the organization, with many asking how they could help.

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