William F. Austin founded the Starkey Hearing Foundation in 1984 with the premise: “Alone we can’t do much, but together we can change the world.” Starkey Hearing Foundation’s national programs and global missions bring understanding among individuals and communities through hearing care by focusing on awareness, education, protection and treatment. This one by one, community by community movement promotes the belief that hearing is the answer to many of the world’s most intractable problems: isolation, poverty, and illiteracy.

Although hearing loss affects 63 million children worldwide, many do not have access to hearing devices. Starkey Hearing Foundation fits and gives more than 100,000 hearing aids annually and, as a member of President Clinton's Global Initiative, it has pledged to fit one million hearing aids this decade.

I sat down with Richard Brown, CEO of fee-only JNBA Financial Advisors and president of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, to talk about how he encourages his clients to find their passion and give back.

Q. How can advisors help their clients find their philanthropic calling?

A: The first step is really to reflect and ask yourself what you are passionate about. What issues or causes really get you excited? When you read or watch the news, what topics pique your interest?

Often, if you peel back the emotion you can see the “issue” that can lead to a cause that you can support. Once you have honed in on the issue, you must ask yourself what kind of change you would like to see. What is your personal goal with this cause? From there it requires time to research and explore organizations that share your same values and are working to achieve the goals that will impact change. Volunteering at an event that includes hands-on involvement is the best way to experience how your potential support could make a difference.  Finding your philanthropic calling is a personal journey, but one that I can promise can lead to greater meaning in the lives of others and your own.

Q: What is your role in the foundation?

A: As president of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, I work with board members, supporting partners and our talented foundation staff to fulfill our mission - “so the world may hear.” There are approximately 20 staff members whose responsibilities range from driving fundraising events, communications and operations, to organizing missions. As a volunteer on more than 20 missions worldwide, I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand how the gift of hearing changes lives. Joining the board in 2012, my role as president is also to plot the foundation’s long-term strategic vision and approve major financial decisions.

Q: How do you have the discussion about philanthropy with your clients?

A: An important part of our job, on top of managing clients’ money, is initiating the conversation about what clients want and need their money to do. Through these goal-based discussions our team members help clients stimulate thinking about philanthropy, and then encourage them to explore their options, and support them along the way.

Q: How many clients do you have? What percentage give to a charity?

A: We have about 650 clients. Because philanthropy is giving of one’s time, talents and dollars, I believe 99% are giving to charities.

Q:What types of charities/foundations do your clients spend their time/resources?

A: The type of charities and foundations our clients support, whether financially or with their time, is very broad and diverse. From the arts to wellness and health to helping animals, we have many kinds of causes covered.

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