Leigh Bivings characterizes the situation of her Boston-based firm, Artemis Financial Advisors, as "weird but fortunate." By that, Bivings, the firm's CEO, means that most of her clients, who have on average $5 million to $10 million in net worth, have the resources to give to charities.

But Bivings is acutely aware of the thin line between advising and intruding. She doesn't ask her wealthiest clients to give more, nor does she try to persuade those with more modest portfolios to pull back. Sometimes, her discreet approach has meant that extremely wealthy clients, whom Bivings estimates could afford a $500,000 gift, have instead given only $20,000.

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