In our newest episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP®, hosts a “giving back” panel with Kurt Kaczor, Director of Pro Bono at FPA; Robinson Crawford, CFP®; Alex Wilson, CFP®, FPA of GA NexGen Director; and Kyle Eaton, CFP®. The group discusses how they got involved in pro bono work, what it has taught them, and how those looking to give back can get started.

Getting involved in pro bono work

The panel kicks off with introductions, each member explaining who they work with and how they first got involved in pro bono work. Robinson is a planner in Phoenix, Arizona who works with the joint partnership between the Foundation for Financial Planning and a nonprofit called Family Reach. Together, their program matches financial planners with families affected by a cancer diagnosis. Robinson had heard of pro bono work early in his career, but the first time it “really clicked” for him was during a speech by the founder of the Foundation for Financial Planning.

When Alex noticed that the FPA board in Atlanta was looking for volunteers at the end of last year, she joined as the Next Gen Director. From there, she began working with a new nonprofit called the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, or the AVLF. Alex began volunteering once a quarter, which then turned into monthly work, and now weekly with COVID-19.

Kyle works with Grace Like Rain, an organization based in Denton, Texas (not far from Hannah!) that helps families affected by poverty and homelessness. Kyle serves as a board member and treasurer, and is helping develop a personal finance program for the families.

Learning from pro bono work

What has pro bono work taught our panel guests? For Robinson, it’s how to slow down and listen more. In our regular work as financial planners, we’re often used to doing things, or “showing your value,” as he put it.

“There’s a tendency towards activity professionally, where it’s better to do something than nothing, it’s better to make a recommendation or have something smart to say, or think of a way to save on tax or do something clever,” said Robinson. “I’ve learned to be more patient with myself, more patient with my recommendations and take more than I give, listen much more.” 

Alex agreed. Pro bono work is not always about the numbers, or offering a solution. Sometimes it’s about “creating clarity around a situation,” inspiring clients, having empathy, and simply connecting with them on a deeper level. 

Similarly, Kyle mentioned that there’s not necessarily a right answer when you get to know your clients needs. There’s a larger gray area, and when you don’t have a good answer, “you have to choose between two bad answers.” That’s why listening and understanding your clients is so important.

How to get started with volunteering

If you’re new to the profession and interested in pro bono work, there are a lot of great resources available. Kurt talked about several opportunities through FPA, but the first step is connecting with your local FPA chapter, which usually has a local designated pro bono director. Through that local director, you can learn about pro bono activities or programs.

Outside of the FPA, there are similar organizations like United Way, the Taproot Foundation, XYPN, and much more. Look at joining online communities, like the FPA Connect Pro Bono 360 Community, or groups local to your area.

And if there isn’t a pro bono program that really resonates near you? Think about starting your own! “You can consider volunteering to be a local pro bono director, if there’s no existing programs or help start a pro bono initiative,” said Kurt. “Many of the programs have started this way, with the leadership of just one or two passionate members…where you identified a local nonprofit or something that was very important to you personally.”

 Our panel shares a lot of wisdom and tips on pro bono work, so be sure to tune in and listen to the whole episode!

 

 

What You’ll Learn

  • Robinson’s pro bono work
  • Alex’s entry into nonprofit work
  • Kyle’s involvement in the pro bono space
  • What the group has learned through pro bono work
  • How volunteering has impacted the group’s lives
  • How everyone began volunteering
  • Advice for financial planners who want to give back
  • Pooling local resources for clients
  • Resources from FPA and other organizations

 

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP®, hosts a “giving back” panel with Kurt Kaczor, Director of Pro Bono at FPA; Robinson Crawford, CFP®; Alex Wilson, CFP®, FPA of GA NexGen Director; and Kyle Eaton, CFP®. They discuss:

 

Want to keep up with our giving back panel hosts on social media? 

 

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Episode Transcript


Hannah: Well, I am so excited today. We are having a giving back panel. I hear this all the time with new planners, is that we know all these great things about financial planning, and we want to help people. And we want to help people who really need our help, who may not be able to afford us. And so I am so excited to have our guests here today. And so the first question that I have, is how are each of you involved in pro bono? And how did you find out about this opportunity? Robinson, I’m going to throw it to you first.

Robinson: Hey, everybody, I’m Robinson Crawford. I’m a planner here in Phoenix, Arizona. I found out about pro bono, I think I’d probably heard of it early in my career from FPA or now for something. But the first time I really clicked, was it the XYPN in conference in 2018. The founder of the Foundation for Financial Planning gave a impassioned, probably five or six minutes speech, where he talked about the benefits, talked about the program and was basically like, “Look, anyone can get involved, sign up, we’ll call you. You can do this and you’re guaranteed to have an impact.” I loved that story and that feedback and that got me started.

Hannah: Oh, that’s great. And so tell me more about the program that you’re actually involved with, so when you do this work, who are you working with and who you’re doing that with?

Robinson: It’s jointly through the Foundation for Financial Planning and a nonprofit called Family Reach, which is specifically around guidance for families affected by a cancer diagnosis. These two organizations are paired up to create this program where financial planners get a little bit of training on how to approach a problem, how to kind of contextualize yourself here, because this is pretty different at least for me, what I do day-to-day, so the training was super helpful.

Robinson: And then what they do is match you up with families as needed. There’s a program coordinator who’s very helpful, who’s going to guide you through matching up with the family, getting some background. Believe it or not, there’s a financial planning contract involved or pro bono contract, getting kind of those many administrative pieces together. And then, you’re matched up with families and it’s up to you and the family and communication between you two as to how much you want to work together.

Hannah: And how long have you been involved and how many families have you worked with?

Robinson: I have been involved, it’s a good question. I know I signed up, right, when that XY started and I’ve actually only been deeply involved with one family. I’ve been matched with probably four, but due to life happening, three of those four have not really started, they’ve reached out just a little bit, but haven’t really gotten into the process for all sorts of reasons. But the one family where we’re in contact frequently, I know a ton of details, we worked together for hours and hours and have done a lot of great work together.

Hannah: Alexandria, I’m curious, what is it that you have done in pro bono?

Alexandra: Again, my name is Alex Wilson. I’m here in Atlanta. And I got involved when December of last year, I was notified that the board here for FPA was looking for volunteers and so I ended up becoming the next gen director and started working really closely with Kristin Pugh, who is the Pro Bono Director for FPA of Georgia. And she mentioned that there was a new nonprofit they wanted to start working with called AVLF, which is Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.

Alexandra: I said, “I’d love to help out.” I had some coaching experience through my work and just dove in and at first it was once a quarter and then monthly and then now during the pandemic, we’re actually doing it every Saturday, so we’ve been meeting with clients there. And the clients to come through, they’re working with volunteer lawyers, but then they also get to work with a financial planner to talk about their money.

Hannah: And so how often do you do that? And how many, I mean, are you talking to multiple families every time you volunteer?

Alexandra: Yeah, so now it’s almost every Saturday, just because they’ve seen quite a increase in demand. And I’d say I meet with between two or three individuals on a Saturday now. And since this has started, I’ve probably worked with maybe 15 individuals. Typically, it’s the short engagement though, it’s not really a long ongoing engagement, like Robinson had mentioned with his families, but maybe an hour with the individual.

Hannah: Kyle, how about you? What do you do in the pro bono space and how did you get involved?

Kyle: Well, I work with a organization called Grace Like Rain and we are providing community relationship and resources to families, while we help them address the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness. And right now, I’m on the board there, I serve as treasurer. And the other thing that we’ve been doing is we’ve been developing a personal finance program for these families that we’re helping out. And I’ve been doing that for I guess, about two, two to three years and we finally kicked off our personal finance program this year.

Hannah: That’s really exciting, so you really had a hand in helping craft this personal finance curriculum, right?

Kyle: Yeah, we did and I’ll say it took a while. Just looking at everything that’s out there, one of the things that we really struggled with was how do you help someone with personal finance that doesn’t have resources? And so it took a lot of time for us to land on something, because if you look from a curriculum standpoint, there’s just not a lot of out there to help. And like I said, “That took us a while.”

Hannah: One of the hallmarks of a profession is that every person needs this and this is what’s so great about pro bono, is recognizing that every person really does need financial planning. And so I’m curious to this group, what have you learned about financial planning working with your respective nonprofits?

Robinson: There’s a tendency towards activity professionally, where it’s better to do something than nothing, it’s better to make a recommendation or have something smart to say, or think of a way to save on tax or do something clever and kind of show your value. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself, more patient with my recommendations and take more than I give, listen much more.

Robinson: Of course, listening is like it should be ground zero for every planner all the time, but working pro bono has very much highlighted the importance of that of being a listening ear, being empathetic.

Alexandra: Absolutely. And I love to chime in on that too. A lot of the clients that I work with that come through AVLF, some of them are just coming out of homelessness or have never worked with a financial professional before, or if they did, it was maybe a bad experience. And I’ve learned that a lot of times they just want someone to listen to them and to actually care about their situation and maybe offer a few solutions.

Alexandra: But what I’ve learned from working with these clients is sometimes it’s not about the numbers, right? Sometimes it’s more about creating clarity around a situation or inspiring them, because they are going through a fairly difficult time in their lives and just having that, not just a professional talking to them about maybe Medicaid or Social Security Disability, et cetera, but also just having that empathy and really connecting with them on a deeper level.

Kyle: What I’ve learned is it’s really tough to be dogmatic whenever you get to know some of these families, it starts getting a little gray, especially when it comes to financial planning, there’s not necessarily a right answer. Because a lot of times when you’re working with families, with pro bono, you don’t have a good answer, you have to choose between two bad answers. And so I think that’s tough for a lot of times for us, because we work with people that have money and we can say, “Okay. You have this fund, this is what you should do.”

Kyle: Well, when you’re in a situation where you have a question of, “Do I pay my house or do I pay my car?” Things get blurry. And so I think that’s one thing that I’ve taken away and this kind of goes back to what Robinson was saying was that, “A lot of times you have to stop and you have to really get to know the people’s situations, You have to ask questions, but more importantly, you have to listen and you really have to better understand where they’re coming from.”

Hannah: It’s so interesting you say that Kyle, even just that what you said of, “Do I pay for my house or do I pay for my car?” I mean, what do you tell them?

Kyle: Well, and that’s part of the reason why I love the organization that I’m with, because we’re really focused on the community aspect and really looking at how do we create a foundation for the future, to help these families to operate in the future. And that’s where this organization that worked with Grace Like Rain, is we step in and we say, “Okay. We have resources, we have community partners that we can point you to that can address this. The organization that we work with, we can provide you some with, with housing assistance.”

Kyle: And so really what we’re looking for is a way to help these individuals bridge a gap. The reality is that there’s certain people in our society that they’re always going to need help. And I think that’s one thing that’s really my eyes have been open to, is how do we help these individuals? How do we do it in a way that is smart with the resources that we have, but also gives them a dignified life? Because I think that’s equally as important as well.

Hannah: That’s a really good point. Going off of that, what have you learned about others as you’ve been doing the pro bono work?

Alexandra: With some of the clients that I’ve worked through some really tough situations. It’s shown me that sometimes no matter how bad a situation is, the level of determination that these clients show and just excitement to get back on their feet has really been very inspiring for myself as well and very humbling experience. But it showed me that a lot of people just have the grit to really power through a situation and they can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it’s been very inspiring for me personally.

Robinson: I think I’ve learned a little bit about how situations like this, the stress and difficulty of deep financial distress can’t be overstated and its effect on your mindset and your ability to think clearly. I tend to think of these situations as just a complete mental roadblock to laying out your options clearly. It’s really hard to stay dogmatic and stay rational when you’re facing extremely difficult financial situations, like not paying your house or not paying your car, so the value of disentangling that for someone else can be really tremendous.

Kyle: And I think this is one place where we can have a huge value add is just, there’s so much complexity in our line of work and just helping individuals to navigate that complexity saying, “Here’s this resource? This is what fits your situation.” I think that can be invaluable to these families. The other thing that I would say too is, specifically from a financial education standpoint, all people don’t learn the same. And so I know with a lot of the families that we work with, if we were to do a PowerPoint slide, if we were to do a video, they’re just going to tune out.

Kyle: And so what you really have to do is the individuals that you’re working with, you have to figure out how they work best. I know in our program that we’re doing, it’s a lot of storytelling, it’s a lot of role playing and for me, that was a huge paradigm shift, because I would have never even thought that just because I’m so accustomed to PowerPoints.

Hannah: Well, what’s so great listening to all of you is I know we’re talking about giving back and working with low income or people who are at homelessness or have major medical diagnoses, but these are all things that really impact everybody. I mean, everything that you’re saying, I mean, it could be applied to our traditional financial planning clients if you will.

Alexandra: Oh, absolutely. I think too, it’s important for me to realize sometimes that these hard situations that these clients are going through, this could happen to anyone. I hear stories all the time where their life was going great and then something major happened and everything changed, sometimes overnight. I think it’s important to realize too, that this really could be your aunt or uncle or yourself even, and just this one little event in your life can throw everything off, so I think it’s just important to recognize that as well.

Hannah: Yeah, that’s always so sobering to think of it in those terms. I’m curious, one of the things that I love about volunteering is, we try to have an impact in other people’s lives, but often we see an impact in ourselves. How has giving back impact or changed you in your perspective?

Kyle: For me personally, I grew up in a single parent home, so I am familiar with a lot of the struggles that single moms face. And I remember growing up, we had a landlord and we moved into his property and we rented for about 10 years. And during that time, he didn’t raise rent once and so that was tremendous for our family during that time. And for me, I look back at him and he’s someone that’s made an indelible mark on my life.

Kyle: And just having the opportunity to perhaps do that to another family, to have someone say, “Hey, this person really helped me out whenever I was going through a tough time.” That for me is possibly better than any type of professional achievement that I might make, because I’ve known that I made a difference in someone’s life that really needs it.

Robinson: Kyle, that’s really powerful to hear, thank you for sharing that. For me, I’m not sure that all that much has changed. I think I’m a better planner, a better listener, more empathetic and more open to possibilities. Part of our job is considering possibilities that have not been thought of, had not been floated, have not been tested, right? The range of those goes way wider when you do this work, you consider how deep financial hardship can go on someone and on the family, so I think it’s impacted me in that way.

Alexandra: I completely agree with both of you as well. I think doing this has made me slow down a little bit. I tend to be fairly quick with my normal clients, some of them are doctors or residents, and they’re very quick on their feet and the solutions are pretty straight forward most of the time. But with the clients I work with, with AVLF, sometimes you just have to slow down and take things piece by piece and really maybe dive into one thing they said for a bit of time to really uncover what’s really going on and actually create real solutions as well.

Alexandra: I think it’s definitely made me slow down and just not be so quick on my feet, that maybe I miss something or I sound like I’m trying to rush through, right.

Kyle: I guess one area that I’m curious is that, this is for Robinson and for Alex, just in your professional life now, based on the nonprofit work that you’ve done, has that changed the way that you’ve helped clients, really clients that are looking for meaning of some type or just opportunities to help out others?

Alexandra: On my professional science, so I’m also a financial coach for the company I work for. And I think the exposure I’ve had from AVLF has definitely translated over there as well, because it’s not just slowing down and listening more, but crafting more creative solutions sometimes is necessary. And I think I’ve been exposed to some really hard situations and just thinking through what’s possible and then defining options better and presenting those to the client, all of that has just changed over the past.

Alexandra: I mean, it’s only been roughly six months now, but I have seen a change in how I’m working with those coaching clients, even though maybe they’re not considering paying rent or their car. Maybe it’s a smaller decision or maybe it’s saving versus paying down debt, but the way I’ve approached those and talked through with clients has definitely changed.

Robinson: Yeah, I like to use this framework. I don’t know where I got this, but the idea of you have a capital on your balance sheet and you want to put it to its highest and best use, so what’s the highest and best use for my dollars? In our professional life, we often look at large sums of money and think of them in terms of investment return or how to help a client reach a goal or retire or whatever it is.

Robinson: When you juxtapose that with the impact on a human level, that even small dollars can have used elsewhere, right, used to help a family, make rent or meet a deductible or have Thanksgiving, or whatever that is, that changes the tenor of the conversation significantly and helps clients, I think, broaden their perspective on what they’re capable of.

Hannah: That’s a really good point of recognizing the difference scale. One of my favorite questions, is that a lot or a little? And for some people it can be a lot, when for others it’s just a little. I’m curious, when you guys got started volunteering, were you guys actively looking for something to give back to, or kind of what prompted you to get involved?

Alexandra: Yeah, I was actually looking for a way to get involved professionally with the FPA. And through that, I met Kristen Pugh, and heard about the pro bono opportunity she had and I thought it’d be great. With my professional life, I do work with “Main Street America” and I’ve always enjoyed working with people who might not have access to a traditional financial planner, because they don’t really have money or they can’t afford the fee, so it was just another extension of that I think.

Alexandra: And I think that’s what drew me to it and hearing about the clients that were coming through and the need that was there and that there weren’t really a lot of planners that were able to volunteer, I just signed up pretty much as soon as she mentioned it.

Kyle: I know for me, I was in a pretty dark place in life and I was 10 years into my career. And if you haven’t as a planner experienced this yet, there will be some point in your career where you’re kind of in the doldrums, so and you’re wondering, “What am I doing?” And so I think I had that moment in my career where I always looked around and said what, “What is this leading up to?”

Kyle: And I remember that I was in a group of other businessmen and I looked at them and they were successful businessmen, but they had deep regrets with regards to their family, with their spiritual life, just because that business success came at a cost. And so it really, it made me stop and made me reevaluate what was important. And I just, I remember looking at life, looking at what I’d like to do, who I like to help and this opportunity came to me and it was something where the organization that we’re working with, we’re working big long scale grand plan is to build a community with about 50 to 60 homes.

Kyle: And I started thinking about that and I thought, “Wow, if I could be a part of something like that, something so much bigger, how cool would it be for my kids, 20, 30 years down the road to say hey, my dad was part of that.” And so I think that was really kind of where, I think the book’s called Life Lodge, but they talked about going into the doldrums and then how you go into this cocoon and about how you recreate yourself and you re-emerge. And I think for me, that’s how I got started really focusing more on the nonprofit side of things.

Robinson: I love that story. Mine is simpler. I heard the founder, I believe, or the CEO of the Financial Planning or Foundation for Financial Planning give a conversation and had the internal dialogue that said, “Is there any possible excuse in the world why you would not do this?” And the answer is “No, absolutely not. This is a terrific use of your time. It’s validated and you’ll be guided through.”

Robinson: One of the doubts that comes up here. I’ve heard a lot of planners talk about this when we talk about pro bono is, “Are you even capable of doing this, what do I know about this person’s situation? What could I add in such a difficult situation for them?” And I assure you, if you go down this path, you will be guided towards the resources you need to be effective at it.

Hannah: What would your advice be for a financial planner who’s listening to this and being like, “Maybe, I do want to give back.” What would be your advice to them?

Alexandra: Just try it. There’s definitely enough opportunity out there, if you just ask and see where could my skillset be put to use? Or maybe there is some areas that could challenge you just like Robinson said, “Sometimes as financial planners, we don’t really know a lot about Medicaid or Social Security Disability, or how they all work together.” But what’s really exciting about these programs is you can learn those and deepen your own knowledge base as well, as at the same time where you’re helping someone.

Alexandra: And I think just like Robinson said, sometimes you don’t necessarily have to know everything going in, we’re smart people, we’re curious, we’re creative and we can find the information we need, as we need it. I think just diving in and trying it and if you don’t like it, then you can always step back, but it’s worth trying.

Kyle: For me, it’s find to something that you’re passionate about, whether it’s a cause whether it’s individuals that you’re passionate about, find your passion and that’ll make things a lot easier. The other thing that I’ll say too is, you’re going to have to learn to say no. I think that’s probably one of the most dangerous things when you go into work with nonprofit, because there’s never going to be a shortage of people that need help.

Kyle: And so in order to protect yourself personally and also protect your clients, you are going to have to say no, at some point, and you’re going to disappoint a lot of people and you just have to be prepared with that and you have to know that it’s okay, that you have limits that you cannot do everything you can not solve everyone’s problem.

Robinson: I love that. That’s tremendously practical. Curious if you guys have thoughts on this, but it’s occurred to me and it sounds like Alexandra has more experience on this than I do. But on a local level here in Arizona, I’ve thought to myself and shower thoughts type of times, that I would really love to have just a tremendous quiver of knowledge around the state and local programs to where I could really sit down with anyone in my community who’s in a hardship position and be knowledgeable about what’s going on locally.

Robinson: I admit that I haven’t sat down and built that, that type of knowledge. To your knowledge is that, do you know people who do that? Is that you personally? And how do you start building up?

Alexandra: Yeah, so with FPA of Georgia I have to credit Kristen Pugh on this, but she started a shared Google Drive and some documents in there, whereas soon as we hear of the local resource or even a federal resource, we drop it in there with links and a description and kind of who it would help. And then at the same time, we’re in talks about creating training or webinars even to help our planners.

Alexandra: But as well, we can create webinars that work for our clients, talking through the different types of bankruptcy or things to think about before going to bankruptcy and what resources are available in nonprofits to talk through debt and things like that, so that’s where we’re starting. Of course, it’s something that is built out over time, it’s learned over time, connections are made over time, so I think it has a long way to go, but that’s just how we’re at least starting to gather those resources.

Kyle: I’m up here in Denton County, which is probably about 30 miles North of where we’re Hannah’s at. But we have a local nonprofit here called Serve Denton. And what it is, is actually an umbrella and a lot of nonprofits sit underneath that umbrella, they have offices and they share services. And I think that’s one thing that has really been beneficial to our organization is that we’re not recreating a lot of unnecessary things, we have other organizations that we can partner with that we can send people to and I think that is key and something that we need to hit on is that we’re not duplicating someone else’s efforts.

Kyle: And so, I know just looking at things, there’s a lot of smaller nonprofits that are out there and it’s hard to know exactly what everyone’s doing. And so I think one of the best things that you can do is really do a deep dive into your local community, start asking some questions, getting to know who’s out there and what they’re doing.

Hannah: Yeah, I’m in the Dallas area and I know there’s one main nonprofit here. I cannot remember the name right now, but they are kind of that aggregator of they help people determine what resources, that’s their stated purpose and so they’re a really great resource here. And so I know different communities have different resources like that.

Kyle: Yeah, and I know United Way for a lot of communities, United Way is that go to, and they would have a lot of resources for just all different areas.

Kurt: I would also offer that for FPA members that may have seen, we are working in partnership with our partners, like the Foundation for Financial Planning and actually Family Reach through the Financial Planning for Cancer program, that Robinson mentioned and he’s heavily involved in. In fact, next week on Tuesday, Jackie Lake is offering a seminar webinar about federal and local entitlement programs, benefit programs to cover things like TANF and WIC and Food Stamps or SNAP, those kinds of benefits.

Kurt: Obviously, that is difficult to everyone’s comments to provide local resources as well. But the intent behind that is really to offer those national perspectives with some local connections as well, so we do have some of those resources also available.

Hannah: What else were you missing guys? What else would you want to share about giving back?

Kyle: I did have one question for Kurt and I think this is really one area that I really struggled with. There’s a lot of great opportunities through FPA Bono, but if you’re going outside of that, is there any resource that a financial planner can go to say like, “Look, I need to have this in place, I need to make sure my liability insurance covers nonprofit planning, I need to make sure that my ABB is updated for nonprofit planning.” Is there any type of resource like that?

Kyle: Because I know the great thing is with FPA, they cover a lot of that for you if they’re providing the opportunities. But there’s some people that have passions that are outside of what’s offered by FPA.

Kurt: Yes, so you touched on some great points. As you mentioned for FPA members, we do offer some I think great benefits and enhancements for pro bono work. One is a fairly recent benefit that you mentioned, so we now offer errors and omissions insurance or E&O insurance for our members, while conducting pro bono work, which has been a great benefit that we’ve added in the last couple of years and obviously a lot of our members take advantage of that.

Kurt: We have a lot of tools and resources like, sample letter of engagement and things that you mentioned, Kyle. If you’re not a member there are some amazing partners and groups. Robinson is a part of the Financial Planning for Cancer program, which we’re also heavy program partner in and we actually worked with the Foundation for Financial Planning and Family Reach to develop that program a couple of years ago.

Kurt: And you do not have to be an FPA member to participate for example, so you can sign up for that program through the Foundation for Financial Planning or through Family Reach directly and still get the benefits of the training and the sample templates and forms and other things available. Robinson also, I believe mentioned that he’s a member of XYPN and so there’s other great groups like that in the community that provide opportunities for financial planning professionals.

Kurt: I can’t speak to their specific resources that are available for each organization and group, but there’s very similar organizations out there. I just had a conversation recently with someone about the Taproot Foundation and they offer national virtual pro bono opportunities for professionals of all backgrounds and provide some resources. You mentioned United Way and of course, local nonprofits as well are great vehicles to take advantage of, so a lot of ample opportunities with varying resources available.

Hannah: The E&O for pro bono is actually a really big deal and that FPA provides. Does that only cover if you’re doing pro bono through FPA or does that cover for any pro bono that you may be doing and then do people need to sign up separately for that or do they automatically get enrolled?

Kurt: FPA did start providing errors and omissions insurance for our pro bono volunteers, I’m starting about two years ago now. That is currently available to active FPA members, while conducting pro bono programs through FPA. It would have to be a program that was developed nationally like the Financial Planning for Cancer program or our partnership with homes for our troops or some of these other activities and programs we have available, or it could be through a local chapter.

Kurt: The great programs that Alex mentioned that she and Kristen and their leaders have developed through AVLF and other programs, if you’re working through one of those, you would be eligible for the E&O insurance also, so those would be the main requirements. You also have to be eligible to conduct pro bono work, that means you need to take the FPA Pro Bono Financial Planning Training and be a obviously an active member of the organization.

Hannah: And so that’s a great segue, so if somebody wants to give back, where can they go?

Kurt: Through FPA as Robinson and Alex and Kyle have mentioned, we have some great opportunities and they highlighted how volunteering as a pro bono financial planner is a great way to give back and build professional skills and strengthened ties with the community, connects in this case with fellow FPA members. What we always recommend for folks to get started is to really first connect with your local FPA chapter.

Kurt: Many of our local FPA chapters have a local designated pro bono director. If a chapter does not have a pro bono director you can speak with another local leader, like a chapter executive or president, or other executive. You want to find out what the chapter provides in terms of the pro bono activities or programs, there are some amazing programs and opportunities developed by an offer through the local chapters.

Kurt: Top of mind for me, I think about, for example, in San Francisco or FPA San Francisco Chapter has some great programs working with survivors of recent wildfires. FPA Minnesota has a terrific program they developed with local based organizations like the Angel Foundation or Prepare and Prosper. FPA of Georgia, Alex spoke to and has been incredible in helping develop some incredible partnerships that they’re doing at the local level, in their state, in their community.

Kurt: National Capital Area does financial readiness clinics on local military basis, so you can imagine just the wide scope of partnerships, everything with working with habitat for humanity, junior achievement, working with domestic violence victims, really following your passion as Kyle shared earlier. You can consider volunteering to be a local pro bono director, if there’s no existing programs or help start a pro bono initiative.

Kurt: Many of the programs have started this way, with the leadership of just one or two passionate members, or maybe it’s someone like Kyle’s experience where you identified a local nonprofit or something that was very important to you personally, that really resonated for you and you got involved in that way. We also suggest that you complete the Pro Bono Financial Planning Training we have available.

Kurt: A couple of years ago, we really refreshed this training and developed a one hour training that’s on demand through a partnership with the Foundation for Financial Planning and Kaplan professional. It is eligible, in fact for one CFP, CE credit and really is designed to help financial planners understand the basics of how to provide pro bono services to typically underserved members of the community. We have great resources that we talked about earlier, like the errors and omissions insurance for FPA members while conducting pro bono financial planning.

Kurt: As FPA members know, we also have some great online communities that you can join such as the FPA Connect Pro Bono 360 community, that has a whole library of presentations and valuable information and doing pro bono work. It’s also a great forum for sharing information about your chapter’s pro bono activities, learning best practices, requesting and sharing resources, asking and answering questions of your peers.

Kurt: We also have some other resources and tools available through FPA. We have some great guidebooks that can help support you in developing a local pro bono committee, creating a mission and plan of work or forming partnerships with community based organizations, recruiting and managing volunteers, and a lot of these other critical aspects of developing programs.

Kurt: Finally, I’m always available as a resource for members and for the community. We’ve developed some opportunities nationally that we’ve touched on today including the Financial Planning for Cancer program. We’re grateful to folks like Robinson and hundreds of other FPA members and nonmembers have volunteered with this program to really make some positive in the lives of cancer patients and cancer caregivers across the country and made a great impact.

Kurt: We also have partnerships with groups like homes for our troops, which provides especially adapted homes for injured veterans, to provide homes especially adapted homes for men and women that have served in the military that have limb amputations and difficulty navigating their home and so this has been a great partnership that we also provide. These are just many ways that we often suggest for people to get involved.

Kurt: Then there are numerous opportunities as we also discussed outside of FPA, there are thousands of local nonprofits and ample opportunities is everyone mentioned, other groups like XYPN and the Foundation for Financial Planning, in fact FFP has recently developed a tool called CFP Volunteer Match, where you can go to their website and see about volunteer opportunities across the country like, the French playing for cancer program and others, so numerous ways for people to get involved.

Hannah: Well, that’s, what’s so exciting is that it can, like you were saying, you can really follow your passion and what is it that you really care about? And the great thing is you can volunteer in one and decide that’s not right and go try something else, so you’re not locked in at any point.

Hannah: Well, thank you everyone for joining and thank you for the work that you’re doing in your communities. I mean, this is making and you’re being such a good example of what financial planning is and we need more of that. Thank you guys for the work that you’re doing in your communities and for joining us here today, to give us all a taste of what pro bono can look like in financial planning.

Alexandra: Thank you for having us. It was great hearing from the other planners involved in pro bono in hearing what you’re doing, so thank you.

Robinson: Likewise, thank you Hannah.

Kyle: Yeah, thank everyone here. I think we have an incredible opportunity right now and I want to thank all the other planners for the work that they’re doing. And Hannah, I thank you for all the work that you do with FPA, same with you Kurt as well.

Kurt: Thank you. You’re all amazing and I’m just inspired by hearing your stories and all the positive impact you’re making. And I’m in the enviable position, I get to hear and see all the great work happening every day and in hearing the positive impact that you’re making, so just great loads of gratitude to each of you for the great work you’re doing.

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