Celebrating the Importance of Professional Advisors

by Emily Jones Rushing

So how did you find out about community foundations? For many generous people, the answer is: their lawyer, their accountant, their financial adviser, the key professional they trust to help them make a difference with their charitable dollars.

Seven years ago, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham recognized the important role of these advisers by establishing a perpetual award as part of our local celebration of National Philanthropy Day. Working in cooperation with the Alabama chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, we created the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham Outstanding Professional Adviser Award, which was given this past Tuesday, Nov. 15, to attorney Kirby Sevier.

We don't choose the award winners — is part of the AFP process, which also honors outstanding philanthropists and civic leaders, among others. But we are always proud of the individuals on whom the spotlight shines for a brief moment each year.

As the award name implies, the outstanding professional adviser is highly respected in his or her field of law, accountancy, insurance, financial planning, banking, and investment services. They have a proven track record of working with clients who use their charitable dollars to make a significant difference in our community. And they lead by example with their own charitable giving — both in time and treasure — and promote the role of the charitable adviser among their fellows.

Thanks to Kirby Sevier, Harold Apolinsky, Charles Powell IV, Jerry Lanning, Judy Todd, Tom Armstrong, Lloyd Wilson, and all of the advisers in every community who take on the sometimes delicate task of asking their clients the "charitable question." They see what we see — no charitable gift is made only for the tax break. It must come from the heart, as well.

Because of these professionals, generous people can find wonderful ways to give back to the communities they care about. And that is surely something worth celebrating during Community Foundation Week.

Emily Jones Rushing is director of communications at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. 

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