Beth Renner and Molly Porter discuss with Michael Liersch how you can make your giving more impactful by involving family, friends, and the community.
|Investment and Insurance Products are:
Transcript:[MICHAEL:] Hey, humans. I’m Michael Liersch, and this is the About Money podcast presented by Wells Fargo. I’m a behavioral scientist with a PhD in cognitive psychology who loves openly discussing money to help humans better understand their money behaviors.
By understanding our money behaviors, we all have the opportunity to make better money decisions. This season, we’re going to talk about jobs money can do for us. Jobs, you might ask? Yes. Money does many jobs for us. Such as helping us with our family, lifestyle, the community, aging, travel, investing, and more. We have a great lineup of guests for you, so let’s get into it.
In this episode, we’re going to speak with Beth Renner, head of our advice center, and Molly Porter, co-head of community relations at Wells Fargo. You may be asking yourself: What does that mean? Well, Beth and Molly spend much of their time thinking about the community and how money can have its highest impact for those both giving and receiving it.
Beth leads an advice think tank where her team works with customers and clients every day to make sure their philanthropic strategy aligns with their values and their goals.
Molly and her team works with our Wells Fargo Foundation, ensuring that Wells Fargo’s philanthropic giving aligns with current focus areas, which include affordable housing, small business growth, and financial health.
I’m so excited to speak with both Beth and Molly, because they can help us answer the question that we’re asking in this episode. How do I make money work for my community?
To answer this question, we’re going to discuss what philanthropy means to them, our clients, and our customers, how money can be received and given in the most empowering way, and how to involve family, friends, and the community in giving to make it successful.
Beth and Molly, welcome to the Wells Fargo About Money podcast. I’m really eager to get into your thoughts and your ideas around giving to the community.
And I know you both know this –that there’s still a variety of misperceptions around how people can most effectively give. So, I do want to say it’ll be really great to dig into that. But in any case, before we do that, I just want to welcome you both to the About Money podcast.
Molly: Thanks, Michael. It’s great to be here.
Beth: It’s great to be with you.
So, where are people really focused on giving today?
So, Molly, perhaps you can give me some thoughts, and then, Beth, you can follow on with your thoughts.
Molly: Sure. Well, Forbes does an annual ranking of nonprofits that receive the most private contributions each year. And at the top of that list are a few organizations you’ve probably already heard of. Places like the United Way, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity. And most of those large organizations do work across multiple areas of focus. But, I’d say there’s certainly a common theme around helping children and families access their most basic needs.
So, that’s things like providing people with safe, affordable places to live and ensuring that families have access to healthy and reliable sources of food.
Michael: How about you, Beth?
Beth: So, Giving USA tracks giving annually in this country since 1954.
Some of the common sectors were religion, education, and human services. But, Michael, what’s interesting, since the pandemic, we have seen a shift in how individuals are engaging in philanthropy and the areas that they’re giving to.
And what we’re seeing is that there was a dramatic increase in gifts to public society benefit organizations. So, just like Molly said. So, thinking of food bank organizations that help individuals with food scarcity.
The other thing that was really interesting is that overall giving by individuals was up 12% in 2020.
Michael: So, Molly, Beth, when it comes to this idea of philanthropy, community-based giving, you know, giving to others, what are some key misperceptions that you’d want to highlight.
Beth: The first kind of the two common things that I oftentimes hear when I’m sitting down and speaking with individuals that have made the decision to engage in philanthropy is that they feel like they have to be rich to be a philanthropist. So that’s the kind of the first misperception.
And then the second one is that they don’t believe that their sum of money will make that large of a difference. And I would say that those two are very false.
And we oftentimes see individuals leverage all of their resources or encourage them to leverage all of their resources for their philanthropy. So, not just thinking about their money, but thinking about their time and their talents. Maybe their experience that they have in their career that they could apply to a nonprofit to help them navigate strategic philanthropy. Right? Or leveraging their networks of being able to cultivate additional donors for that organization. So, you can be rich in many ways other than just the financial aspect of things.
So, those would be the two misperceptions that I would probably like to share with the group.
Michael: That’s great to hear. And Molly, before we turn it to you, I really do like this idea of, you know, it’s almost like, Beth, there’s no amount that’s too little to give because when you look at the totality of the gifts across many individuals that can be oftentimes more powerful than any single donor.
I love that idea and that you can be rich in so many different ways, which I think, sometimes, when it comes to philanthropy and giving, we just think about money. But you’re right, it has such a broader lens than that.
And whether that’s, to your point, helping in terms of networking or your time, your energy. So much in that.
Molly, what are your thoughts there as well?
Molly: Yeah. I love that, Beth and Michael.
And I say that all the time, you know, there are no small donors. Every dollar really makes a difference. And maybe I can address this a little bit from a corporate giving lens, too, because we hear a lot of these misperceptions as well around what is the role of corporations and the business sector in philanthropy. And I’ll say that, you know, personally, I absolutely believe that large corporations like Wells Fargo have a responsibility to support the communities where they operate.
So, I happen to think that I have the very best job here at the bank, because I get to help bring that commitment to life by finding ways to leverage what you were saying, Michael, Wells Fargo’s full set of resources –so, both financial and non-financial –to serve the communities where we work every day.
Michael: That’s awesome, Molly. And we’re not going to get into an argument here about who has the best job in financial services or at Wells Fargo, but I think you’re definitely in the running.
Michael: So with that, Beth, maybe I’ll direct this next question to you. And when we think of the question I’m about to ask you, I want you to really put the work you do –I know you meet with clients and customers each and every day –I’d like you to share with us some really quick key do’s and don’ts when it comes to giving to the community. And also maybe weave in there how you might involve family members in that process or not, based on the do’s and don’ts that you offer up. So, Beth, what are your thoughts there?
Beth: Yeah. So let me go kind of with the second part of your question,
We are seeing more and more families that are wanting to engage multiple generations in their philanthropy and I think that that’s wonderful. It’s a way to carry your values further forward through generations.
And so, that’s the first time that you’re going to hear me talk about the importance of just understanding your values.
And I oftentimes say that not only is philanthropy the guardian of our values, but understanding your values is the starting blocks for philanthropy. So, the two kind of go hand in hand. And so, I think it’s really important that individuals and families kind of sit down and have a dialogue and just inventory what are some of those key values that they want their philanthropy to represent. Because that’s really going to help provide those filters for you of those areas of focus.
Michael: Well, thank you for that, Beth.
And I think it’s really interesting to think about starting with this idea of values and how that ultimately translates into this notion of communicating your giving intentions and involving others in that way.
Molly, I’m going to turn it to you.
And speaking of values, I’d like you to share with us a bit on what Wells Fargo’s philanthropic efforts are focused on.
And I know you alluded to this, but I’d love you to dig a little bit deeper into that and for you to describe to us where Wells is focused, and why, if you could.
Molly: Yeah. Absolutely.
So, when we think about giving at Wells Fargo, we try and target our impact in areas where we can go beyond simply writing a check and instead really leverage that full power of our resources, like we talked about before, you know, both the financial and the non-financial, to address some pretty complex social issues.
So, as one of the country’s largest financial institutions, it makes sense that our work would be centered around strengthening economic opportunity with a focus on supporting nonprofits that align with four core funding areas for us. And those are financial health, housing affordability, small business growth, and finally, sustainability and environmental justice.
And as we think about each one of those areas, we’re always looking at solutions through an equity lens as well. So, we’re thinking about how we can address systemic issues like the racial wealth gap and the need to drive economic mobility so that we can drive toward this vision of a more inclusive and sustainable future for all of us.
Michael: So, when you think about that sustainable future, Molly, if I could ask a quick follow-up question — Why would Wells Fargo be involved in those ideas or concepts? I think a lot of times people don’t equate a financial services organization like Wells Fargo to the type of giving you’re describing. Why are we involved in these areas that you just described?
Molly: Yeah. I think there’s a fundamental understanding that in order to create a healthy and a robust economy, we need communities that are thriving. So, at Wells Fargo, we’re really interested in thinking about how we can use the totality of our resources to build up, you know, each one of those communities and let people achieve that financial success.
So, when we work with a grantee, certainly there may be a component there around giving a financial contribution, but we’re also thinking about how we can connect to that grantee with the expertise that our business brings.
Are we able to do volunteering with our incredibly talented workforce here in a way that adds value to that community need?
So, Molly, that’s really interesting, because I think a lot of people don’t connect the dots –and I will say, certainly in my lifetime, I haven’t always — to this idea of, you know, thriving communities really building a thriving, sustainable economy, which benefits everyone, from individuals to businesses. And it makes us all better off.
Beth and Molly, I would really like you to address this idea of
More the psychological benefits of giving.
Can you tell us a little bit about how people can make the most of those potential psychological benefits so they get more of the pluses and less of the minuses.
Molly: There’s a lot of ways to learn about organizations that you’re giving to and one of the best ways is to volunteer. So, we see a lot of times where it’s actually people are volunteers before they’re donors. So they have a chance to sort of ease in, to get to know the organization and get to know their mission and the impact that they’re making. And that often provides some level of comfort, then, I think to take that next step and really make a personal investment in the mission of that organization.
Michael: Ah. I see, Molly. So, it’s almost like the psychological benefit, that you experiment with that by being a volunteer before going toward the economic exchange with the organization. Is that correct?
And I’d say, you know, if it’s maybe a smaller organization or a group that you haven’t heard of before, maybe you’re being solicited for a donation by a friend or on social media, another great free resource that I tell people about a lot is guidestar.org, which is a free resource where you can look up any charity that’s recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit organization, and there you can get this fast free information on things like their mission, their financials, their leadership. So, everything you need to really do that due diligence and feel like your gift is going to be used in the way that you intend for it to be used.
Michael: And can you highlight that resource one more time for our listeners?
Molly: Sure. It’s guidestar, all one word, dot org.
Michael: So, G-U-I-D-E-S-T-A-R dot O-R-G. Is that correct?
Molly: That’s right.
Michael: Awesome. Thank you, Molly. Beth, what are your thoughts?
Beth: Yeah, so, thanks Molly for mentioning Guidestar. It’s a great way to evaluate charities.
But if you were to sit down with a nonprofit organization and describe some of the donors that had the greatest satisfaction after a year of giving to that organization, there would be a couple of common themes.
They would talk about this idea that there was a lot of open communication between the donor and the nonprofit organization. And so when I mean open communication, there was clarity around what each of them wanted to accomplish.
The second piece that I would touch on is I’d encourage you, as a donor to say in a year from now, what is that you want to accomplish with your philanthropy? And it can be as broad and as narrow as you want. But really having some tangible, measurable ways that you can measure your success is going to help you gain that satisfaction.
And then the third piece, I would say, is just I encourage you to be lifelong learners in your philanthropy.
Michael: Well I appreciate that, Beth, and that idea of lifelong learning, and also just the intrinsic elements of human beings being interested in giving to others, and as social creatures I think is a good insight as well.
So, all really great tips.
Molly, what’s one way that a listener can take immediate proactive action to give to the community in the most productive way?
And you mentioned guidestar.org. Is there anything else you would recommend that they do?
Molly: Yeah. I kind of echo some of the advice that Beth gave earlier. My advice would be to build philanthropy into your budget. Even if it’s a very small amount, take that time to sit down and think about the causes and the organizations that are most important to you and research their theory of change. So, in other words, how the work that they’re doing is tied to the outcomes that they’re looking to bring about in the community.
And as we talked about before, you know, that building philanthropy in your budget does not mean that you have to give hundreds or thousands of dollars, you can start with a small gift.
And if that’s not possible right now, don’t forget about the other ways that you can make an impact. Things like we talked about before: Volunteering your time or helping to spread the word about a nonprofit’s mission and vision. Because every kind of engagement is really appreciated.
Michael: That’s a super helpful reminder, Molly, thank you so much for that.
Beth, how about you? What’s an action item that can be very proactive that people can take, in your mind?
Beth: Yeah. Absolutely. Here’s what I would do. I would write down on a piece of paper the first thing that comes to your mind in your community that you want to make an impact on and start building a plan around it.
And maybe as simple as reaching out to nonprofit organizations or like-minded individuals that you know in your community that are trying to change or create better outcomes for people with this cause.
And so it’s really –it’s not hard to get started. How does it align with my values? And that’s going to give you the guidance that you need to start having those conversations.
Michael: Yeah, Beth, I just wrote it down as you were talking. So, you’re right, it’s not hard to get started by writing it down.
And then, Molly, especially when you used the lens you talked about and re-highlighted, that we can start small and stay small and that can have huge outcomes, which Beth, you alluded to before. It really feels empowering as a way to get started.
So, I hope our listeners are taking action just like I did. I’m excited to share some of these ideas with my own family. With that in mind, I want to close this out by asking you a question. Why are you both passionate about this topic? Why? Molly can you tell us first?
Molly: Sure. I mean, I’d classify myself as a mission-driven person. So, you know, I’m doing what I do because I am truly inspired by the impact that Wells Fargo is making in communities all across the country every day.
And so, for me, you know, as we are hopefully coming out of this pandemic, I just think there’s a tremendous opportunity to re-imagine the way that we care for and we support each other. And so I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend my time working with people and organizations that are dedicated to bringing that more inclusive and sustainable future like we talked about earlier, you know, to life for others.
Michael: Awesome, Molly. And you know this idea of re-imagining and revisiting all that’s been done, where we’re at as a globe, and where we all want to go together is really inspiring.
Beth, what are your thoughts?
Beth: I’d say in one word, it’s purpose. It’s the ability to have a greater sense of purpose.
It’s an absolute privilege, Michael, to sit down with an individual or a family and hear their story of how they want to help improve their community.
And it’s amazing when you hear that they want to improve the conditions of others in that maybe that area that they experienced. So, I consider it a privilege. It helps me have a greater sense of purpose. It’s very rare, I think you would all agree, to be able to have your personal values and your professional values align. And so I would just say it definitely fills my bucket every day, Michael and it gives me a greater sense of purpose.
Michael: Well, this idea of being purposeful and really leaning into this idea of integrating your work life and that those personal values that you clearly have, Beth, is also very inspiring. So, I really appreciate you being so honest and authentic with us and sharing that with us.
Thank you both so much for being here today, Molly and Beth.
And as you all can tell, we’re very lucky to have both Beth and Molly as philanthropic and community advocates for us at Wells Fargo and for our clients and our customers.
Molly: Absolutely. It was great to be with you.
Beth: Thank you, Michael.
That’s it for this episode of the About Money Podcast. Please email us with the topics that you would like us to address at AboutMoney@WellsFargo.com. And if you really liked the episode, share it with family, friends, and anyone who listens to podcasts.
About Money is produced by Wells Fargo. You can learn more about ways to work with us at WellsFargo.com forward slash About Money. I’m Michael Liersch, asking you to talk about money today.
This information is provided for educational and illustrative purposes only.
|Investment and Insurance Products are:
Wells Fargo Private Bank provides products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
Wealth & Investment Management offers financial products and services through bank and brokerage affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.
Bank products and services are available through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.
Brokerage products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors, a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. offers various advisory and fiduciary products and services including discretionary portfolio management. Wells Fargo affiliates, including Financial Advisors of Wells Fargo Advisors, a separate non-bank affiliate, may be paid an ongoing or one-time referral fee in relation to clients referred to the bank. The bank is responsible for the day-to-day management of the account and for providing investment advice, investment management services and wealth management services to clients. The role of the Financial Advisor with respect to Bank products and services is limited to referral and relationship management services.
© 2021 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. NMLSR ID 399801 Equal Housing Lender.