Alex Eaton Show Transcript
Bart: [00:00:00] Hey builders, did any of you run a nonprofit or want to in the future? If so, this episode is for you. With us is Alex Eaton, the CEO of the community foundation of Utah, a financial steward that serves nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual donors. Every state has a community foundation. Since the first one formed in Ohio in 1914 and today, Alex will talk to us about how they find nonprofits to support and how they also match donors with meaningful giving opportunities.
[00:00:28] Alex, thanks so much for joining us.
[00:00:30] Alex: [00:00:30] Thanks for having me.
[00:00:31] Bart: [00:00:31] So to start, maybe can you just give us a little elevator pitch, like what is this community foundation of Utah? What do you guys do?
[00:00:38] Alex: [00:00:38] Like you said, we are a financial entity. And that we have collective funds that are pooled to benefit the community.
[00:00:45] And the, I think the idea of CUNY foundations is we don’t really know what’s going to happen in 2050 a hundred years, but community foundations will be there to invest in the sector in a thoughtful way to make sure that the community’s provided for. There was a terrible elevator’s pitch.
[00:00:59] Bart: [00:00:59] That was great.
[00:01:00] That’s great. So, so tell us like what is the inefficiency that you guys saw?
[00:01:05] Alex: [00:01:05] Well, there’s about three and a half a billion dollars that’s invested in the nonprofit sector in Utah, and very little of it is measured. So where we see an opportunity is focusing on outcomes in that sector and really understanding what kind of results we’re driving and what are the upstream and downstream impacts of allocating funds to actually affect change rather than just stop gaps.
[00:01:32] Bart: [00:01:32] Okay. So you’re really helping people find the right things to donate to if their donors and you’re finding. Really good ways to put money in the right nonprofits. Is that right? Do you work with nonprofits to make sure that they are efficient in their use of funds and things like that?
[00:01:47] Alex: [00:01:47] Yeah. Yes and no.
[00:01:49] So maybe the easiest way to boil this down is there’s two sides to the house. One side is donors. So we have about 150 donors who. We invest their money, they donate it to, we invest it, it has a return that they don’t have to pay taxes on. And that money can either be a longterm pool of capital so they can give to the organizations they care about in perpetuity, or they can, you know, give shorter term.
[00:02:12] And some of them come to us and they already know who they want to give to, but a lot of them have something they’re passionate about or an experience their family has had. And so what we do is research what organizations. Are in that interest area that are doing good work, and then we match them. So that’s one side of the house.
[00:02:27] Bart: [00:02:27] Yeah. So you’re helping donors be more tax efficient and also donate, you know, tax efficiently, but also to the things that they really want to donate to.
[00:02:34] Alex: [00:02:34] Exactly. And the other side of the house is where we’ll do strategic grants around community priorities. We did a like $545,000 grant to fourth street clinic, which provides medical services.
[00:02:48] To homeless individuals. And there was anecdotal evidence that homeless people were dying at the housed homeless shelters of non critical illness, like diabetes or hypertension. And so we did a pilot where we funded a nurse case manager to go to eight sites and five nonprofit organizations. And fourth street clinic provided that nurse to see if we could reduce EMS calls and provide better access to health care.
[00:03:15] And within that grant, we convened those organizations over the course of a year and a half. We met regularly and we talked about what they actually could measure and we developed data and analytics. So we provided. Funding, consultative support, and then data and analytics, and it’s really neat. The fire department actually finally gave us the EMS call data a couple months ago, and we’ve been looking at not only our nine one one calls reduced, but what are the nine one one calls for?
[00:03:40] So then we can triage what’s happening. At those specific sites,
[00:03:45] Bart: [00:03:45] right?
[00:03:45] Alex: [00:03:45] So that’s an example of just how we fund an issue area, bring together the nonprofits, and then offer data. Because data is not in a lot of nonprofits. You know, they’re doing the really hard work, but they don’t always have the capacity to sit back and measure it.
[00:04:00] And sometimes it’s really hard to quantify.
[00:04:02] Bart: [00:04:02] And nonprofits, a lot of the time are fairly fragmented, especially in, you know, communities like salt Lake or Utah. And so one of the things that community foundation of Utah does is help to bring them together in a cross nonprofit effort like that. Is that fair?
[00:04:17] Alex: [00:04:17] Absolutely. We’ve actually done another funding around homelessness similar to that, and we’ve started working with Silicon slopes on the Silicon slopes, computer science fund, totally separate from, but we’re convener. So we’re really looking at across the ecosystem and figuring out, okay, where is there an issue area where there are funders who want to address it collectively?
[00:04:37] Bart: [00:04:37] So with the community foundation, you’re pulling together a community. You’re a convener. I liked that word. And you’re a nonprofit, right, as well.
[00:04:46] Alex: [00:04:46] A five Oh one C three
[00:04:47] Bart: [00:04:47] and this kind of organization exists in every state.
[00:04:50] Alex: [00:04:50] Yeah. There’s actually over 700 community foundations in the country. The first ones was started in 1914 and there were only about 20 or 25 statewide, and we’re one of the statewide community foundations.
[00:05:01] It’s actually needed with another community foundation actually in Wyoming. Formed a peer group last year, so we convene all the statewide committee foundations, so it’s kind of fun. We talked to like Rhode Island, North Dakota, and South Dakota and Arkansas, and to try to share best practices on what they’re doing in their communities, in their States, and see if we can help each other, which has been kind of fun.
[00:05:20] Bart: [00:05:20] the two sides of the marketplace are nonprofits and then donors. Do you work with businesses as well or just kind of like business owners or people who have had an, you know, an exit and need to tax efficiently, find ways to use their money and,
[00:05:32] Alex: [00:05:32] well, we can work with businesses. We do something called corporate advised funds where if a corporation wanted, they could have a fund with us and develop a giving strategy and you know, like a branded impact strategy and work with their employees on.
[00:05:48] Purpose with their paycheck and we would facilitate all of the grant making. We haven’t done as much of those just cause we were still relatively small and the corporate clients attempt to be a little bit like higher maintenance. So we’ve mostly worked with donors, mostly donors who are exiting a lot of sales.
[00:06:03] Accompanies companies. We deal with a lot of pretty sophisticated transactions. We’ll take a C Corp’s S Corp’s LLCs, limited partnerships, real estate, and we actually have a trust entity. So we can take S Corp stock at a reduced unrelated business income tax. So last year, I think we brought in about 34 million in transactions.
[00:06:22] Like that. And what typically happens is someone’s selling their company and it’s such an exciting time, but it’s also really stressful. And charity is not always something top of mind, right? It’s something you’ve built, you’re ready to sell. And we get brought in a lot of times last minute where there’s this call and Oh, they want to donate, or they want to give to the church, and the church maybe doesn’t want this asset.
[00:06:40] Can you turn this around in the next 48 hours? You know? And we’d prefer to have a couple of weeks, but we have done two in 26 hours. Wow. And, uh, we actually have to do diligence whole company. Like you have to, cause it’s, we’re accepting something, right? We can’t be at risk. So we have to get all the financials, the ownership governance, run it by our legal, run it by our executive committee.
[00:07:01] But they’re really fun. We had one, uh, that we were accepting December 31st at 6:00 PM, we were texting the CEO to finally sign the DocuSign. But yeah, so,
[00:07:11] Bart: [00:07:11] and this is the CEO, like someone’s buying his or her business and. He or she is thinking, okay, part of what I want to do here is donate to my church or donate to these other things and it’s going to be, you know, tax efficient.
[00:07:25] If I do it in this way with the community foundation where I actually give them a certain amount of my stock before the transaction is done.
[00:07:33] Alex: [00:07:33] Is that right? More tax advantageous if you do it before the sale than after.
[00:07:38] Bart: [00:07:38] Cause you have to be taxed on that.
[00:07:41] Alex: [00:07:41] And typically it’s after
[00:07:42] Bart: [00:07:42] the sale.
[00:07:43] Alex: [00:07:43] Typically it’s highly appreciated so that way you avoid.
[00:07:45] Capital gains. Yeah. And you take the full deduction. Yeah. So yeah, it’s trying to find people before they’ve signed actually the buy sell, once they’ve signed the purchase agreement, it’s not Dean charitable anymore. A lot of our work is trying to educate people who, who want to give to their church or want to give to please, you know, give us a few weeks before, you know, you can have the letter of intent.
[00:08:08] You just can’t have the purchase agreement.
[00:08:09] Bart: [00:08:09] Yeah. Very interesting. Let’s go back a little bit to your background. You know, part of this podcast is really to understand where people have come from and find inspiration in their journey. I know you have been a part of the community foundation for a few years now, but what were you doing before that?
[00:08:26] Alex: [00:08:26] Let’s see. I kind of have an interesting journey. I might just start with, um. Many years ago, I moved to Zimbabwe with my husband and we were ex-pats and I couldn’t legally work. And so I ended up running this nonprofit for free, actually for $50 a petrol money. And, um, you know, and so I had this really extreme experience of like what it’s like to work in a third world country.
[00:08:50] For a nonprofit and the impact you can have. And so then when we got back to the States, for whatever reason, I ended up being an investment management. I started out at Morgan Stanley during the tech bubble, and I was in private wealth management. We had one client, we sold 300 million worth of stock in a six month period.
[00:09:07] He had a $42 million tax payment. It was so much fun. And then, um, the gentleman that I worked with went over to run the Goldman Sachs private wealth management office. And so he brought me over to be the business unit manager. So I basically ran the office. Ran the business and, um, did that for a number of years.
[00:09:23] And this was actually in Texas and Goldman had an opportunity in Utah and I hadn’t spent much time here, but I came out and I absolutely fell in love with it.
[00:09:33] Bart: [00:09:33] And you grew up on a ski resort,
[00:09:35] Alex: [00:09:35] ski resort. So I didn’t realize till I got back here how much I miss the mountains. Like I felt like I could breathe, you know, and ended up leaving Goldman and working for the former.
[00:09:44] Person I worked with at Goldman, I was a CLO for a company that raised capital for private equity and hedge funds. But when I was in Utah, Goldman had moved me to Utah, and then I ended up leaving and then working for that company and working more remotely. I was commuting to New York quite a bit, pretty much every other week.
[00:09:58] I don’t know. And then I got to a point where I was kind of burnt out. I’d been in investment management for many, many years. And I remembered working in Zimbabwe and I remembered thinking that I had made a difference. And so I was like, what if I could take all these corporate skills that I have and actually do something where it had a return that wasn’t just a number.
[00:10:16] So quit that job and took some time off and hiked in the mountains with my Labradors and some, a friend called and said, Hey, the girl Scouts were looking for a CFO, you should apply. And I think they hired me in about six days. And then I was there for a little bit, and then I heard about this foundation.
[00:10:32] The same friends said, you should apply for
[00:10:33] Bart: [00:10:33] that job. The girl Scouts is this like Utah. Okay. The girl Scouts of Utah,
[00:10:37] Alex: [00:10:37] which was fun. I didn’t, I had to learn all about commodities, got to negotiate the cookie contract. But, uh, I actually had a commodities license at one point. So maybe that helped. But yeah.
[00:10:50] And then the community foundation has been so much fun because. It’s a financial institution. I mean, right now we’re at about 84 million. That’s almost all donor advised funds. And donor advised funds are a great kind of alternative to private foundations. You know, if you have probably less than 10 million and you don’t want the administrative burden of the tax reporting and everything that go with a private foundation, donor advised funds act very similarly, but you basically outsource the philanthropy so you could just get to do the fun stuff.
[00:11:16] You get to say where to give it. You don’t have to do any of the back office stuff we do that. So it’s a complex financial institution, but at the same time, we do social good. So we’re both, as we spoke about earlier, targeting, you know, collective funding around topics that are important to our state. And then I actually work a lot with donors around next gen stuff.
[00:11:36] Because money sometimes can be somewhat of a burden. I mean, people think it’s great if you have $50 million, but sometimes that’s difficult. Yeah, money can be difficult. And so more recently we’ve been doing some really neat discussions with second generation, third generation of fourth generation around values and legacy.
[00:11:54] A lot of times people think about how and where to give, but not why. And so we’re trying to tap into like what are the values? Cause often, you know, you grew up in the same family, but you have very different experiences, but often you share values. And so it’s a way to foster collaboration
[00:12:09] Bart: [00:12:09] around.
[00:12:10] Alex: [00:12:10] Yeah.
[00:12:11] And it’s really fun. It’s really fun work. And I think, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about the community foundation, and we’re really here for the long term, and so it’s really important to us to help equip these next gen donors, because sometimes that’s not what families talk about, you know, or they tend to focus on the financial piece.
[00:12:27] And there’s so much you can do within philanthropy. It’s like the social piece, the full person. Not just the finance.
[00:12:34] Bart: [00:12:34] Yeah. Let’s take a step back to when you joined the community foundation. What state was it in? Was, I mean it was in Utah, but like in terms of like, was it fully fledged, did you take someone’s place or did you have to come in and kind of take it to the next level?
[00:12:51] Alex: [00:12:51] We’d been around about six years. I’ve been there almost five years now, and. My predecessor is definitely a Rainmaker, and my joke that I’ve said to her is there was water everywhere, and she even said to me, that’s a bit of a mess, Alex, but she got it off its feet. It’s fantastic. You know, Buddha is really about not being everything to everyone at every price.
[00:13:10] I mean, we had all kinds of funds that didn’t really make sense. We had strategies we use that didn’t really work. We had. We did a bunch of scholarships, but that costs a dollar to make 25 cents. I mean, there was a lot of things that needed to be cleaned up. And at the time we were 50 separately managed accounts.
[00:13:25] So he’d count to like Merrill Lynch Morgan, cause donors can have accounts other places. And we didn’t have anyone on staff who had a finance or accounting degree. Wow. And it’s time. We were only 27 million, but you know, I was so fortunate to find a CPA. Who’d been at Deloitte and Johnson and Johnson, who’s still with us, hope you stay Yuki, um, forever and yeah, and just kind of clean house and get the right people on the bus.
[00:13:51] And I think it probably took two or three years to really rightsize it. We added some additional talent to our board, and it’s probably been in the last year and a half, two years. We’ve just been on fire. I mean, last year was our best year ever, and we were brought in more money last year than we had when we got there, you know?
[00:14:08] Yeah. And being more strategic and more engaged in the community and more engaged with nonprofits and donors. So, yeah, it’s definitely like I’m the lifecycle person who comes in after the founder, um, and really gets scale and solidifies, um, and a lot of like, institutionalizing a lot of things we do.
[00:14:28] Because a lot of it was in her head. Yeah, and that’s been really fun. I’ve always been like a fixer as well as a builder, so it’s been great.
[00:14:36] Bart: [00:14:36] That’s what we’re all about on this show, and I love what you said about like the longterm perspective that you have. You know, most of our builders, or there might be some, there probably are some who are building nonprofits, but most of them, I imagine, are building for profit entities.
[00:14:52] What can. We learn from nonprofit management, from the board, you know, dynamic that you guys have. I think nonprofits are interesting. It’s a different model for sure, but there’s a lot of the same elements of building something to stay.
[00:15:08] Alex: [00:15:08] It’s interesting. I think the way I’d answer that is there’s something so rewarding about.
[00:15:14] Giving back to your community. I mean, there’s something rewarding about building a business. I love that, right? But if you can tie that, like if you build your business, but you find something you’re passionate about and you can engage a nonprofit and give, like there’s that piece of it. So it’s having a, a philanthropic mindset within your business context.
[00:15:32] And then I think it’s also nonprofits. Could you use mentors? You know, typically you get into the nonprofit landscape because you have a passion. You may not have a finance or a management background or business background. And I think there’s a huge opportunity. We actually broker some of those relationships where we have some PE, VC entrepreneurs, someone you know, who, um, nonprofits will come to us in a variety of ways and we’ll match them with a mentor.
[00:15:58] And that’s been amazing. And I think. The people that are mentors really enjoy it. Yeah. Everything in nonprofit land just taps into something that isn’t black and white. You know? It’s something bigger than yourself. Yeah. So I guess that’s a long way of saying, at least try to get involved.
[00:16:13] Bart: [00:16:13] Yeah. So it sounds like there’s ways to get involved with nonprofits and philanthropy if you’re a business owner or in business and building businesses.
[00:16:22] I imagine there’s also a certain. Amount of, like you say, like ways to collaborate in the community, right? Cause a lot of our business builders are local businesses. They’re building local businesses in their community, in their city. And it’s not necessarily just like an online eCommerce, which is great too, but there’s something to community.
[00:16:42] And we’ve had this on a bunch of episodes where. People talk about how important it was for them to get to know the store next to them and to be involved and have that community to learn from, et cetera. I wonder if we sometimes not discount non-power so maybe not even know about them or how to get involved with them.
[00:17:01] Are there other types of organizations that the community foundation works with to do that as well? To get businesses involved with nonprofits or just trying to understand the landscape a little better and think through what our business. How they might apply what they learned.
[00:17:16] Alex: [00:17:16] The first thing we should do is, is get rid of the word nonprofit cause it sounds like we’re failures.
[00:17:21] You know what I mean? I’m like, I wish someone would do like a a branding thing on, you know, we’re five Oh one or I don’t know what it is, but I mean, you can definitely volunteer. We have something unique. It’s called the social investors forum, and it’s basically a shark tank for nonprofits. And we put together an investment committee, and it’s some of these people I mentioned that are mentors that could be an entrepreneur, venture cap, private equity, but people who think like builders, who think like, what is the viability of this enterprise?
[00:17:51] How sustainable is it? What impact is it innovative? And what’s fascinating is then we, and we have this process where the nonprofits apply and we work with the committee to select six or however many in that round. And then they do pitches and we do pitch training before to prepare them. Because a lot of times in the nonprofit space it’s hard to articulate their value proposition cause there’s.
[00:18:10] So passionate about what they’re doing. It’s hard even it’s hard for me to do the elevator pitch right. And I’m
[00:18:16] Bart: [00:18:16] on the spot.
[00:18:18] Alex: [00:18:18] No, it’s great cause it’s like she changes every time cause there’s so many things you’re doing right. And it’s really fun. The questions these people ask our investment committee of the nonprofits that they’ve never been asked before.
[00:18:29] And that’s been really fun. We’ve given loans out of that. You know, the shark tank, we’ve given grants and we’ve given like mentor capital. But that’s, and we’re. Well, we’re kind of working on having a more formalized like mentor program so that we can get what people would like maybe to spend time on, whether it’s finance or strategy or whatever.
[00:18:48] And then the nonprofits that we really would like to help. But I think like you could always call the community foundation and we can figure out some way to engage you. Do you have
[00:18:57] Bart: [00:18:57] any examples of some of the most interesting nonprofits and the work that they’re doing in
[00:19:02] Alex: [00:19:02] Utah? There’s many that I think are fantastic.
[00:19:06] There’s one called first step house that works with addiction, and they have been super innovative. They’re part of a program called pay for success, which is a social impact bond where essentially private, the private sector puts forward money in this case about 11 and a half million, and then there’s a.
[00:19:24] Project over six years where if first AppHaus hit certain metrics, the investors get paid back by salt Lake County. It’s kind of this interesting structure that started in England and they’ve been part of that for the last three years with us. We’re the financial and legal intermediary, and just. Seeing them grow.
[00:19:42] They have a new facilities they’re building. I’ve just been very impressed with them. And then, uh, I also love an organization. I actually just had lunch with the CEO called Playworks, and it’s the power of play. So it’s conflict resolution during recess. And he has very, very specific metrics on like what.
[00:19:59] A dollar invested in him, saves a school, and he’s gone from, I think working with five schools to working with the a hundred schools, and it’s a very quantifiable service that he’s delivering
[00:20:10] Bart: [00:20:10] many fights. I’ve stopped on school playgrounds,
[00:20:13] Alex: [00:20:13] and then also I think kids are so hyped up if, if they aren’t taught that, that when they get back in the classroom, they aren’t as effective.
[00:20:19] Yeah. I mean, those are two. There’s also one called Nobel horse sanctuary that I love just because I love horses, horse sanctuary. It’s in holiday and it’s. A forever home for horses that had been appeased.
[00:20:30] Bart: [00:20:30] Oh wow. So how do nonprofits build to stay? Because they’re reliant on donors, right? Is it just you become an effective nonprofit that really is good at solving the problem you’re trying to solve and then you get more and more donors?
[00:20:44] Or are there other ways?
[00:20:45] Alex: [00:20:45] We try to work with nonprofits. Some of them that come through our programs is. Is revenue strategies because you can’t rely on donors. I mean, a donor may love you for 50 years and then pass away and their kids are interested in something else. Yeah. I mean, I don’t know what the answer is, but we’ve tried to kind of orient it from not just like asking for grants.
[00:21:04] But what business or what revenue, what earned income can you generate within what you do? Um, and then I think we’ve been educating donors a lot that don’t just give the programs, like give to general operating because you get what you pay for. And I think there’s this, I dunno, approach to giving. It’s like people only want to give to programs.
[00:21:21] So it’s, it’s both working with nonprofits, how can we be longterm? And also what we talk to them about a lot is. Doing an endowment because an endowment is a perpetual fund that can help fund their operations. And so much is focused on just tactical today, the immediate need. But as a community foundation, we have a longterm horizon and we want to be a longterm pool of thoughtful capital.
[00:21:42] And so it’s, it’s helping that sector understand that in times when they don’t have those donations, if they have that infrastructure, it will be better for their health.
[00:21:51] Bart: [00:21:51] do you work with like B Corp’s at all?
[00:21:54] Alex: [00:21:54] Not so much. I mean, we are friendly with Cotopaxi, but um, you know, Davis, but haven’t yet.
[00:22:00] Bart: [00:22:00] Yeah, it’s always interesting to me.
[00:22:02] I actually heard him speak one time Davis from Cotopaxi canopy tax. Right. Is that right? I
[00:22:09] Alex: [00:22:09] thought he was still at Cotopaxi.
[00:22:10] Bart: [00:22:10] Is he? It might’ve been. Someone else says
[00:22:13] Alex: [00:22:13] tech Corp is Mark Miller Subaru.
[00:22:14] Bart: [00:22:14] Oh, really?
[00:22:15] Alex: [00:22:15] Yeah, because Jeff Miller is fantastic. He’s on our board, but. They give so much. They’re so charitable.
[00:22:21] So he ended up becoming to be corporate. I thought it was pretty cool. I think he’s the only car dealership in the country that’s a B Corp.
[00:22:25] Bart: [00:22:25] So you know, I heard someone speak that was a, the head of a B Corp and he actually suggested not trying to mix nonprofit and business, like not trying to do something that’s kind of in the middle.
[00:22:38] He’s like, it’s so much easier to start a business. That’s either one or the other. That’s for profit or not for profit. Don’t try to do something in the middle. And there’s, you know, famous examples of companies that have done well, giving away something for free. Every times that something is purchased by someone.
[00:22:56] But, uh, I think that companies that can find a way to. Give back in an interesting way. It’s good for employees. It’s good for the community,
[00:23:05] Alex: [00:23:05] I think is the future.
[00:23:06] Bart: [00:23:06] Yeah. Then that’s what was, that’s where it’s going. I wanted to understand like you work with a lot of people who have like exits from these startups or businesses, and then you also work with a lot of nonprofits.
[00:23:16] Where do you think it is going? How are things changing, not just with technology, but kind of with where you know, social issues are going and all of that.
[00:23:25] Alex: [00:23:25] Well, I think the big focus is always like impact, especially the younger generation. They want to know like what the impact of their giving is. So that’s one thing that’s changing.
[00:23:33] And I think the vernacular, the lexicon, you know, when you have startup people like that, the language they speak is very different than what the nonprofit languages we see. So it’s like we have to help that lexicon evolve. I think there’s a huge opportunity, and I think as we grow larger, we could be really.
[00:23:50] Really helpful and pivotal in terms of creating these corporate advised funds, these branded impact strategies for these companies, these younger companies. We just had one actually that opened a corporate advised fund, and they just started, but they, and they’re, I think they’re going to give like 2% but they wanted to.
[00:24:07] Like have philanthropy be part of their DNA at the beginning. But I think there’s like, when you think about Silicon slopes, if all of those companies had philanthropy as part of their brand, and they can give to whatever they want, you know, could be cancer, and then they engage something like a community foundation that has a strategic framework, I guess, for how to give and where to give.
[00:24:29] But I think that that would be so amazing for this community. If you think of all the companies in Silicon slopes, if they were. Actively giving in a meaningful way.
[00:24:36] Bart: [00:24:36] The argument I hear sometimes is that as a company, why is the company choosing what to give to? Why doesn’t the company do what they do best, which is be a company, right?
[00:24:48] And pay their employees, and then the employees can choose what to give to, or the people who. Sell the company, choose any, and you actually kind of help coordinate either one. It sounds like more on the side of, you know, when people have an exit, you helped them match them to the right things. But I think you can do it either way.
[00:25:07] And I think that the companies that have that brand, like you mentioned, what do you think about this? It seems like once they have that in place, they’re going to attract the people who want that strategy as part of their company. So maybe it’s hard when you initially adopt something and you like some people in the company may not, like, some employees may not be into that, whatever version of philanthropy, whatever thing you donate to as a company.
[00:25:33] But if you’re already doing it, it tends to attract the people that, uh, are attracted to that kind of strategy.
[00:25:41] Alex: [00:25:41] So much flexibility. I mean, I’ve seen companies that have certain key employees, you know, call it 10 or 12 be like the vetting committee for what they want to do. And you can change your strategy every year.
[00:25:53] You could have your company at your, all your employees vote this year. You want to do animals next year, you want to do water Wells in Nicaragua, you know, you, it’s so, it can vary. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. And the thing that’s so neat about philanthropy and giving is it’s so individualized. So it really depends, I guess for the builder, the leader of the company, how much they want to dictate or govern the giving, or how much they want to engage their employees.
[00:26:16] But there’s so much flexibility in it. Yeah.
[00:26:18] Bart: [00:26:18] know that, uh, I always feel good, you know, when, when I have a company activity that that goes out and does something good, not just necessarily like, let’s go bowling together, but like, let’s go contribute to this. Or. Or work at this soup kitchen, or you know, you do something as a team, which is fantastic, but you’re also helping people.
[00:26:37] And to the extent that those are like easy to kind of navigate and make happen as a team. And to the extent the company supports that, I think that can be really positive for everybody.
[00:26:48] Alex: [00:26:48] And this maybe isn’t totally related to the company, but I’ll give you something that I did recently, which was amazing, is we had funded a gentleman by the name of Bernie who is down at the salt Lake city library.
[00:26:58] Bart: [00:26:58] There was not Bernie Sanders?
[00:26:59] Alex: [00:26:59] No. Okay. Nobody. No, no, but this Bernie teaches Tai Chi or he doesn’t actually teach it anymore. The homeless people that he has congregated teach, and they meet there three times a week and he brings coffee and he brings breakfast burritos, and it’s this community of about, I don’t know, 65 or 70 people and they’re all talking to each other and walking around, and I met.
[00:27:22] Quite a few of them. And then they go into the library and one of them will stand like at the top of the steps and most of them will go down in the basement cause you can see that person. But there’s also the second and third level of the library. But they’ll stand on just, they have to be able to see him and he leads them in.
[00:27:36] Tai-Chi. And it is the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen. Cause it’s like that movie awakenings Kimmer who’s in it, you know, where it kind of gives you goosebump where it’s, here are these people that are living on the streets and they have a sense of community and they have a sense of wellness and it gives us something to do.
[00:27:53] But it was. It was real and they’re, they’re leading it itself led. But I don’t think that they’re things like that where you’re like, Oh my gosh, I am so fortunate. You know? And like, we, we need to invest in these people.
[00:28:03] Bart: [00:28:03] Yes, I agree. And I love it. It feels like a breath of fresh air. You know, when you work hard, you’re building your business, you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t have a lot of extra time and things, but when you do prioritize something that’s a little bit outside of that bubble that you’ve created, that is giving back.
[00:28:23] In whatever capacity. And I like what you said about the, you know, this is flexible. It’s individualized. I think it’s just good for the soul. It rejuvenates. It gives a new perspective. And
[00:28:33] Alex: [00:28:33] I’d add to that, you know, even not within your company, but within your family. I mean, what a fantastic thing to teach your children, you know, to give back.
[00:28:41] Because often when children are children of privilege, you don’t necessarily need to do anything. Right? And if you get involved in philanthropy, it teaches you core competencies, I think. And it connects you with the world in a way, because you can, it can be isolating. Well, and that’s something where you can see a very direct impact of you.
[00:29:00] And it’s just, I don’t know, I just find being in philanthropy, it’s like getting up every day and go into work and thinking I’m here really to make a difference in Utah. I’m here to help address these. Like that is so cool. It’s such a fun. You know, I mean, golden was a great place to work for sure, but you know, getting a 6% return or 8% return or whatever, it was not as meaningful as like, you know, if me and my team, if we, if we do, are successful in creating this lasting pool of capital and we’re well on our way and then well past my lifetime, this is here to help this community.
[00:29:33] It’s just so rewarding. So we’re building philanthropy.
[00:29:36] Bart: [00:29:36] I love it. Yeah. And what advice would you give, you know, to business builders to those who are listening, who, you know, maybe from the, the donor aspect and the tax advantaged aspect, but also just in terms of working with nonprofits, like what’s the top three maybe or four piece of advice that you have?
[00:29:56] Alex: [00:29:56] I might start with what’s meaningful to them. What are their values? What’s something as as diabetes impacted their life? Like what, what’s something that’s in their core that would be meaningful to them and to their family so that it’s tied to meaning and values. And then I would do my due diligence and look at nonprofits that are in that sphere that I feel interested in.
[00:30:19] And then once I identified them, I would go deeper and I would look at their nine 90 cause it’s public, their financials. I would, you know. Look at what their budget is, look at what programs they’re involved in, see if you can assess impact, and if you’re then still intrigued. So this is a fourth thing I would do a site visit, because once you establish the relationship, and once there’s the trust, then you figure out how much you want to be involved, whether you just write a check or you volunteer.
[00:30:44] But I think vet the nonprofit, just like you would vet a business. Right? I mean, you know, I often say that just because you’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean you can’t be profitable and, and create
[00:30:55] Bart: [00:30:55] real value.
[00:30:55] Alex: [00:30:55] And then I think, you know, help them build that long lasting value and impact to the community. But I would definitely do your due diligence.
[00:31:03] Bart: [00:31:03] And would you go to a community foundation type of organization?
[00:31:07] Alex: [00:31:07] Yeah, I think I’m more like a dating service, right? I mean, we, we know the community and we know all about the taxes. So we’re a really easy place to start. Yeah. I mean, you could call us and just talk to us. You don’t need to do anything with us because our intent is to help the community.
[00:31:20] Right. So even if we just ended up giving you three referrals, we won’t pick the organization for you, but we’ll give you kind of a. An array. But yeah, I mean, we’re a great place to start because as I said, we see the whole ecosystem and the players and we deal with people exiting their companies all the time.
[00:31:35] Bart: [00:31:35] And is that the main use case? Like it’s when people have an exit that you can really help them? Or is it any time?
[00:31:42] Alex: [00:31:42] It’s anytime. I think donors come to us a number of different ways. It could be just they suddenly are interested in philanthropy. You know, they, maybe they don’t have a lot of money, but they want to start.
[00:31:51] We have, um, some that had private foundations that just don’t want to deal with it anymore. They’re like third generation, and they did not really, they don’t want to do the administration, so they’ll come to us. But yeah, I mean, donations can be $5 or they can be $5 million. So it’s. Really, I guess if you just have an interest, I think the exit is just, it prompts it, right?
[00:32:10] Cause it’s an immediate, the money has to be given and you don’t know where you’re going to give it. So giving it to a donor advised fund is really easy, you know, and then you have time,
[00:32:18] Bart: [00:32:18] right? So if people want to learn a little bit more, Alex, people who are maybe in Utah are expecting an exit. Thank goodness for those people.
[00:32:27] Um, where can they go?
[00:32:29] Alex: [00:32:29] Well, they can find us, um, online.
[00:32:31] Bart: [00:32:31] Just the community of foundation of Utah
[00:32:33] Alex: [00:32:33] community foundation of Utah CFU, todd.org
[00:32:36] Bart: [00:32:36] CFU todd.org
[00:32:37] Alex: [00:32:37] and they can call us (801) 559-3005 we’re easy to find where the only community foundation of Utah, there’s only one other community foundation here, and that’s in park city.
[00:32:46] So if you just Googled community foundation, Utah, you’re only going to have one option. I mean, I’d love to speak to people on helping with their philanthropy and the exits are fun. I always like to say like. I like to take the thorn out of their paw. You know when they’re going through this, because there’s, like I said, so much stress, but they Siteman, I had one gentleman is really funny.
[00:33:05] He called me on a Friday afternoon and he just found out the night before that the LDS church was not going to take his gift, his 10% gift from his exit, because it was a healthcare company in Colorado, which had disclosure requirements. If you give more than 5%. So we have a great relationship with the council that there’ll be a church and they know, we know of each other.
[00:33:22] So they came our way and he was on a golf course in Colorado, I think with his whole management team, and he hadn’t expected it to happen that weekend. And so he was like, I’m supposed to sign the contract on Monday, you know? And it was a three day weekend, of course. And I was like, look, we do these all the time.
[00:33:39] Just go play golf. You know, this is, you’re going to hear from me Saturday morning and you’re gonna hear from me Monday night and I’m going to be doing a bunch of backflips but you don’t need to worry about it cause we do this all the time. So I called him Saturday morning, you know, and then by Monday night I had it approved so he could sign it Tuesday morning.
[00:33:53] And it was cute. He was like, you’re the most accessible attorney I’ve ever met. And I’m like, well, I’m not an attorney. But, but it was just a situation where, you know what I mean? You kind of, we step in and we’re like, calm.
[00:34:03] Bart: [00:34:03] Yeah. Got it. And this, you’ve been on it,
[00:34:05] Alex: [00:34:05] understand it, know it, you know. Any questions or good questions, you know, but we’ve got your back.
[00:34:11] Bart: [00:34:11] Yeah, that’s fantastic. Well, Alex, really appreciate you joining us today.
[00:34:15] Alex: [00:34:15] Thank you for having me.
[00:34:16] Bart: [00:34:16] Builder’s visit built to stay.com for links to the community foundation and more information about how you can make an impactful gift to causes that you care