‘Popping The Question’ About Charitable Giving: Madelyn H. Hornstein

Hear from Madelyn H. Hornstein, CEO, Dermody, Burke & Brown, CPAs, LLC, on how she “pops the question.”

A U.S. Trust study found that people want their financial advisors to ask them about charitable giving. In fact, a third of clients surveyed think the topic of charitable giving should be raised in the very first meeting. Yet fewer than half feel their advisors are good at discussing personal or charitable goals with them.

Wondering how to start a conversation about charitable giving with your clients? Or looking to refresh your approach? As part of an ongoing series, we’re asking some of Central New York’s most experienced professional advisors how they “pop the question” about charitable giving to their clients. Hear from Madelyn H. Hornstein, CEO, Dermody, Burke & Brown, CPAs, LLC, on how she “pops the question.”

Why do you think it is important to bring up the topic of charitable giving? 

I like to think that most people enjoy giving. Some give their time, some give money and others have the luxury of doing both. Interestingly, many times my clients will bring this up on their own when we are discussing their income taxes, planning for their retirement years or in determining if they will have any federal or New York State estate tax consequences.

How do you learn about your clients’ charitable interests?

I like to get to know my clients as a CPA while preparing individual income tax returns and I need to know what contributions they have made during the year, if any. This simple task of making sure I account for any tax deductions my clients are entitled to gives me an idea of where their interests are and how charitably inclined they are.

At what point(s) in your process do you bring up/revisit the topic of charitable giving?

Some clients like to know whether their charitable contributions are helping them in terms of income tax purposes. Some years they receive more of a tax benefit than in others and we as their tax accountants can add value by reminding them how they can maximize this benefit.  Others will simply donate without a care of any tax benefit it may provide.  It just feels like the right thing to do for them.

It is very easy to revisit charitable giving plans once a client comes to the realization that they have more accumulated wealth than they need to live comfortably. There are many different options available for these people and their time is valuable. The Community Foundation makes it easy for these charitably inclined clients to think through their options and ultimately have their monies benefit many different qualified nonprofit organizations that they care about while only having to work with one organization.

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