Professional Advisors

Professional Advisors are Crucial to Making Effective Philanthropy Possible

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is able to do an amazing amount of good for our community, working with many wonderful donors across Elkhart County. But many of them wouldn’t have connected with us and our reach and resources without their financial planners, who provide an absolutely vital link between us and those who want to do the most good with their resources, but don’t know where to turn.

The work that the professional advisors do to help link givers to us and to our work can’t be overestimated or over appreciated. From referring clients to us for today’s giving to partnering with us on the estate planning council to making legacy referrals for the 120 people who have decided to designate the Community Foundation of Elkhart County as a beneficiary in their estates, we couldn’t do what we do without the financial professionals of this county.

Sure, our staff works very hard to build relationships across the community, but without the additional link provided by planners, we wouldn’t be able to make as big of a difference across this community, from scholarships to grants.

Mike Nicolini is one of those financial professionals who have a relationship with us that we value, and that respect and appreciation goes both ways. He serves on the Estate Planning Council of Elkhart County, a group made of professionals who get together on a routine basis to share ideas and thoughts on estate planning and how, as a group, they can better their professions. It’s made up of lawyers, trust officers, investment advisors and certified public accountants who advise their clients on estate-planning matters.

They meet four times a year and bring in outside speakers to cover various aspects of tax and estate-planning codes. Many of the members of the council have had working relationships with the Community Foundation for decades, but over the last couple of years the council and the Community Foundation thought it was a natural fit to formally work together, sharing the message of the Community Foundation.

That also allows the Estate Planning Council access to speakers who otherwise wouldn’t have been available, said Nicolini, a wealth advisor for McGladrey in Elkhart. In his professional life, he works with individuals, helping them grow assets, protect those assets and ultimately transfer those assets to their descendants and charity.

“In one of my prior careers, at KeyBank, I met Bill Myers, which was my first exposure to the Community Foundation. Since then, I’ve personally made gifts, I’ve become involved in making recommendations to clients about options made available through the Community Foundation,” he said.

“There’s a number of reasons why you would want to work with the foundation,” he explained. “I think simplicity is an important aspect. I think it’s also having that legacy, giving back to the community in which you either grew up or have some large amount of loyalty toward … Your money can stay local. You get to see personally how the money is being used, how it betters the community. It’s an exciting thing to see.”

“There’s a number of reasons why you would want to work with the foundation…”

“If you had to replicate this on your own, obviously it would take a lot of time, a lot of resources that perhaps myself and some others would not have. They always communicate well,” Nicolini said. “Having the staff here that deals with charitable requests on a daily basis, I think that expertise goes a long way.”

On a personal level, Nicolini said he’d like to see the Community Foundation help drive kids to be the best they can, to provide those resources where they are lacking, so that when kids grow up, they get a very sound education and bring that education back to our community. “Not only in terms of economics but as well in the quality of life in Elkhart County,” he added.

Nicolini makes annual gifts to the Community Foundation, but he’s also one of the members of the Legacy Society. He said, “Upon my demise, I certainly would like to see my funds go to organizations that support things near and dear to me.”

Nicolini’s personal involvement includes organizations like the Purdue Club, Junior Achievement and the Kiwanis Club, and he has every confidence that the Community Foundation will allow his work to continue through the causes he chooses to serve. “Otherwise I would not be involved in, or recommending clients to talk to, the Community Foundation. It’s a very well-run organization,” he said.

“Quite frankly,” he continued, “there’s very few organizations that essentially have some perpetuity to them. I would tell people it’s a great resource. It’s certainly a good option for those donors who want to have a fund named after them, for them to be able to more or less pick and choose what’s near and dear to them in terms of a nonprofit.”

“It’s a place where their legacy can live on for many, many years after they’re gone,” he said. “Giving back, to me, provides an opportunity for when I leave this earth, hopefully I’ve been able to make a difference and hopefully make a lot of other people’s lives better in the community. With a little luck, those that are unfortunate can have the resources to achieve and better themselves.”