'This is something we wake up every day for … charity is the goal'

For Charitable Impact founder and CEO, inaugural awards ceremony represents a way to celebrate giving in the wealth industry

'This is something we wake up every day for … charity is the goal'

Last month, Charitable Impact, a technology-based donor-advised fund platform, announced the winners of the inaugural Charitable Impact Awards.

The first recognition of its kind, the awards showcase the pivotal role played by wealth management firms and advisors in advancing philanthropy and the overall charitable giving sector, which faces potential challenges as inflation and recession risks put pressure on Canadians’ ability to give.

“We've always thought it's important to create celebration and to celebrate engagement with charitable giving,” says John Bromley, the firm’s founder and CEO. “It creates an opportunity to recognize and to create learnings for people. You see role models, you see what they did and how they won the award, and you’re more likely to follow in their footsteps.”

While the idea of the Charitable Impact Awards has always been on Bromley’s mind, he didn’t feel it was right to act on it before. To give the initiative the proper amount of credibility, he waited for Charitable Impact to mature enough for third parties to recognize its authority in the charitable giving space.

The platform has reached that summit. Since its inception more than a decade ago, it has exceeded a billion dollars of donations into its impact accounts, with dollar donations to charities in the hundreds of millions. The platform has also grown from individual advisors working with Bromley to onboard their practice and clients, to having well over 100 advisor teams partnering with and plugged into the platform.

“Now that we’ve matured, the Charitable Impact program is ready to be spotlighted,” he says. “With that spotlight, we can potentially see more activity and partners within our charitable giving program. As a mature, experience, sophisticated organization with an excellent team, we’re ready to meet that demand.”

The very first Charitable Impact Awards saw one standout winner: Vancouver-based Stenner Wealth Partners+ of Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, which facilitated over $80 million from across nearly 100 donations.

The firm also recognized five Standout Wealth Advisor Teams:

· The Wong Group at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth (Vancouver, BC);

· PWL Capital Team at PWL (Ottawa, ON);

· Christina Anthony’s team at Odlum Brown (Vancouver, BC);

· Harp Dhillon Group at RBC Dominion Securities Inc. (Surrey, BC); and

· Stephen Webb’s team at Entrust Financial Services (Winnipeg, MB)

To determine the winning practices and firms, Bromley says Charitable Impact looked at several categories including the amount of money given by their clients; the number of different clients they interacted with for charitable giving; and at the firm level, the number of different advisors who are engaged in the practice.

“We didn’t clearly articulate those different categories, given the nature and the complexity of comparing different cases,” Bromley says “Someone could walk in the door, having just sold their company for $100 million, and might be considering giving away $20 million. But that doesn't mean that person's any nicer or better advised than a client who hasn't sold their company for $100 million and is making another gift of publicly traded securities worth $100,000.

“What's important at Charitable Impact is access to and participation in charitable giving, regardless of how much money you have, how much money you give away, what experience you have, or what charities you care about,” Bromley says. “Through these awards, we’re honouring cultures that encourage a wide breadth of participation even if the money is not that big, a smaller breadth of participation with large charitable contributions, and everything in between.”

Even outside the awards, Charitable Impact is able to fully support strategic philanthropy as a non-bank-affiliated, independent foundation. Because of its independence, Bromley says the platform is able to accommodate any wealth advisor from any firm, letting them assist in their clients’ charitable giving while still keeping those assets on their books.

“We didn't start our donor-advised fund to amass AUM when our clients choose to give them away. This is something we wake up every day for, and we’re totally focused on it,” he says. “We don't do charity because it can help us achieve some other goal. For us, charity is the goal.”