Phil Cubeta Joins The American College

I missed this news from a month ago and wanted to mention it now. Phil Cubeta, who blogs at Gift Hub, has been named the new Sallie B. and William B. Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at The American College.

The purpose of the chair is to raise the overall level of charitable giving by educating professional fundraisers serving the more than 1 million nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, in particular though the establishment of the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy certificate program. The program will cover the technical aspects of estate planning, trusts, and charitable giving, as well as the nontechnical aspects of fundraising, including communication and motivation.

The Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy program is the leading certification program for philanthropy advisors. It is offered by The American College, a financial services certification organization, which also offers the very well established Certified Financial Planning (CFP) program (which has become a must have credential in the field). I hold the CAP designation and think that a certification process is an important element to the expansion of the Second Great Wave of Philanthropy.

In 2006, I wrote a chapter titled “The Evolution of the Tactical Philanthropist” for a book called Mapping the New World of American Philanthropy in which I wrote:

As awareness of philanthropic vehicles continues to rise, advisors from many different disciplines must prepare to serve the needs of the new breed of Tactical Philanthropists. Just as falling costs and increasing wealth attracted a flood of new investors into the financial markets during the 1990’s, the falling costs and increase in philanthropic capital will spur on the rising tide of donors who want to structure their giving in the most efficient way. New technology will allow some donors to achieve their goals without much professional guidance, but unprecedented demand will exist for advisors who can help clients navigate the complex world of charitable giving.

Donors now consult with a broad array of advisors such as lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, and nonprofit planned giving officers. Unfortunately it is difficult to judge the quality of advice they receive because professional philanthropic credentials for such advisors are still being developed. Accountants must earn a CPA designation, lawyers must pass the bar, and doctors must get a medical degree, but there is no “must-have” credential for philanthropic advisors. In response, the American College, which administers the well-regarded Certified Financial Planning program for financial advisors, launched the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy program in 2003. As of this writing fewer than 200 individuals across the country have completed the program, but it is a substantial first step toward creating a new generation of advisors to give tomorrow’s Tactical Philanthropist the advice they need to make sense of the complex world of philanthropy.

I think the CAP credential process is very good. My main criticism would be that the majority of the study material treated philanthropic planning as a type of tax planning. While tax planning is an important element of philanthropic planning, it should not be the tail that wags the dog. When I examine the “philanthropic planning” offered by most wealth management companies and look under the hood, I generally find nothing but an attempt to leverage the charitable tax code to maximize personal wealth. But philanthropic planning should be so much more than that! What about the mission of the client? Why are they giving and what are they trying to achieve?

Phil Cubeta and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. Long time readers of this blog know that he and I made it a habit to spar over various issues in some of the very earliest posts I ever wrote. But I can think of no better person to shape the future of the CAP program. We can absolutely count on Phil to shake things up, to demand better and to honor the deep human values that drive philanthropy.

Congratulations to The American College for having the guts to bring Phil on board. They’re lucky to have him.