Philanthropy For Tax Strategy, Client Engagement And Employee Morale

Janeesa Hollingshead, Executive Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Philanthropy Can Engage Clients, Improve The Workplace Atmosphere And Provide Tax Benefits Beyond The Usual Charity Deduction

At this time of year, giving is top of mind for several reasons: First, the Thanksgiving holiday reminds us of gratitude. Then many participate in gift-buying at retailers and online. Finally, we check with our accountants to ensure we’ve made all planned charity donations before the tax year ends.

But would you be surprised to know that giving can help attract and retain key employees? If we take giving to the next level, we will discover ways to not only recruit employees, but boost workplace morale, excite and engage clients, and provide more advanced tax strategies beyond the simple charity deduction.

Hayley Wood Bates, Financial Advisor, SEIA

The culture at Signature Estate & Investment Advisors (SEIA) emphasizes philanthropy, both financially and through volunteering, for both employees and clients. The Reverence Capital Partners-backed firm serves over $16 billion in assets under management, with 39 advisors and 12 offices nationwide. 

Driven primarily by employee donations, SEIA’s Signature Fund for Giving partners with local organizations that act on issues facing today’s youth in order to generate long-term change. 

Hayley Wood Bates, a Financial Advisor at SEIA, oversees the Signature Fund for Giving, and serves on the Leadership Council of A Place Called Home, a charity providing arts, education and wellness programs for the youth of South Central Los Angeles.  

We asked Bates about advanced philanthropic tax strategies, as well as how philanthropy can engage clients and inspire employees. 

WSR: Tell us about some tax strategies that make philanthropic giving more tax-effective for clients than the typical route of claiming deductions for charitable donations. 

Bates: It’s that time of year to ensure your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) has been withdrawn before year-end to avoid nasty penalties imposed by the IRS. For those investors who have RMDs above their living expense needs, a charitable giving inclination and tax liabilities to manage, the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is an excellent strategy to explore.  

Keep the charity receipts!

The QCD permits those with RMDs to gift a portion up to $100,000 of their RMD directly to charities of choice and exclude that gift from their taxable income. 

Considerations of the QCD include (1) the funds must go directly to a 501(c)(3) charity and cannot go to the qualified account owner, (2) inherited IRA assets do not qualify and (3) the amount donated to the charity will be reported on your 1099-R as a distribution, so you must keep the acknowledgement from the charity to claim the exclusion amount.

See the enjoyment of your gift

WSR: What are some ways to get clients excited about and involved with philanthropic giving?

Bates: Giving to charities aligned with your value system is like giving to family and friends during your lifetime – you can see the enjoyment of your wealth transfer. 

We encourage clients to have thoughtful, engaging conversations with the development teams of their preferred charities to think through meaningful life lessons and points of gratitude that may spur an initiative unique to them while sustaining the mission of the charity itself. What better way to realize your living legacy than through sharing your value system with those who otherwise would never know your story?

WSR: How does philanthropic giving of time and financial resources improve the dynamics of the work atmosphere and promote employee camaraderie and recruitment? How do Next Gen employees react to philanthropy? 

Bates: An organization’s people create its culture, which is a tangible workplace attribute that unifies and engages employees. At SEIA, we continuously create volunteer opportunities and share our partner organizations’ successes in order to relentlessly communicate our value of creating a legacy for our employees, clients and partner organizations. 

Paid volunteer days

Purpose-driven organizations link current moments with future missions, promoting the ideal that each act has meaning, however small or grand. 

The next generation values experiences and takes note of corporate philanthropic initiatives. Offering corporate matches for charity giving and paid volunteer days foster and perpetuate an environment of giving and gratitude, which can attract and retain key talent. 

Janeesa Hollingshead, Executive Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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