Competency Framework for Charity-Based Gift Planners

In consultation with gift planners, CAGP has developed a list of necessary skills and knowledge (competencies) a Gift Planner needs in order to accomplish the following identified tasks successfully:

  1. Ability to read/understand financial statements, do calculations, etc.
  2. A basic understanding of the financial/economic environment.
  3. Comfort and ease in interpreting legal concepts/language.
  4. Ability to translate complex concepts and structures into simple, plain English language both in writing and speech.
  5. Effective listener – ability to ‘listen to understand versus to respond”, and ability to retain and interpret what’s being said.
  6. Possess an ethical compass.
  7. Comfort in asking for money; understanding personal relationship/response to money/wealth.
  8. Empathy for others (dealing with such private matters as wealth/death, loss, etc.).

Enabling Competencies

Relationship Building with the donor. The ability to:

  • Develop long-term, trust-based relationships with potential donors that support the donor’s vision for philanthropic giving, the desire for a legacy and the donor’s personal needs;
  • Actively listen and retain what is being said;
  • Be comfortable in asking for money;
  • Demonstrate empathy, understanding and comfort around end of life discussions;
  • Translate sometimes complex technical, legal and tax-related language and concepts, where necessary, into plain English to aid in the donor’s comprehension;
  • Work with donors on a one-to-one basis over extended periods of time, as their needs determine;
  • Demonstrate commitment to stewardship as per the wishes of the donor;
  • Maintain relationships essential to effective acknowledgement, recognition and stewardship of donors; and
  • Connect the mission of the charity with the philanthropic vision of the donor.

Relationship Building with stakeholders. The ability to:

  • Build mutually beneficial networks of trusted legal, tax, financial and insurance advisors;
  • Work effectively with family members and/or the donor’s advisors;
  • Build relationships with internal charity personnel and volunteers to enhance and take advantage of resources such as accounting, programming, public affairs, marketing, research, etc.

Ethics and Judgement

  • Adherence to the CAGP Code of Ethics;
  • Ability to identify where donor needs align or differ from those of desired legacy due to competence, financial viability, family commitments, and other factors;
  • Ability to identify and retain confidential information that may not be appropriate to share with the employer;
  • Knowing when to re-direct a donor to more appropriate gift planning vehicles or charities, whether or not such is in the best interest of the person undertaking gift planning discussions;
  • Ability to identify and avoid conflict of interest scenarios;
  • Understanding of the concept of “no gift before its time” (in the best interests of the donor). 

Technical Competencies

Knowledge of Gift Planning Vehicles. An understanding of:

  • A variety of gift vehicles such as securities, registered funds, insurance, annuities, gifts in kind for both current and deferred giving;
  • Advantages of corporate vs. personal giving;
  • The opportunity and impact various options have for the donor (including degree of control, access to capital, timing and tax treatment perspectives);
  • How to determine fair market value of various charitable gifts and what information should appear on the charitable tax receipt;
  • When to refer the donor to specific professional advisors.

Knowledge of Legal Context of Gift Planning and Charitable Sector. An understanding of:

  • Legal implications of Gift Planning from the first conversation through to appropriate stewardship of the gift;
  • Legal terms, wills, gift contracts;
  • How to manage estate gifts and estate administration;
  • When to refer donors to legal advisors and to seek legal advice regarding a gift;
  • Familiarity with Canada’s charitable sector and the legal framework within which charities act.

Knowledge of Charity (you are associated with/employed by):

  • Familiarity with data systems, their maintenance, interpretation and application of such to Gift Planning;
  • Ability to understand and implement the policies, procedures and diligence around gift planning and gift receipting;
  • Understanding of charitable management and governance;
  • Familiarity with the mission, vision, values, tactical and strategic directions of the charitable organization for which the gift planner is engaged.

Knowledge of Marketing & Communications. An understanding of:

  • Emergent philanthropic and charitable sector trends and issues;
  • Fundraising-related planning and marketing techniques;
  • The best outreach vehicles for donors;
  • Familiarity with different donor prospecting approaches;
  • Ability to undertake market research applicable to Gift Planning.

For more information, contact Erin Kuhns, Manager, Education and Training:
1-888-430-9494 Ext. 222 or email