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Nov. 28, 2022

Sybil Ackerman On How To Do Your Good For Your Legacy And Charitable Giving (#181)

Sybil Ackerman On How To Do Your Good For Your Legacy And Charitable Giving (#181)
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“Take a breath, move forward, and make sure that you're leaning into environmental and natural resources issues in a way that listens to other people.” - Sybil Ackerman

Sybil Ackerman-Munson has 20 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and foundation advisor who works with philanthropic institutions and foundations interested in successful, high-impact grant making, to help you make a true and lasting positive contribution to the world on your terms.

Sybil knows what it’s like to be a grantee as she spent over ten years working at environmental nonprofits before transitioning to foundation advisor.

In her  early career, Sybil chose to work in the nonprofit sector because she saw it as a place where she could make a positive impact on the world. Sybil raised money for programs and directed major campaigns to safeguard and steward  land and water resources.

Sybil decided to transition to working as a foundation advisor when the Trustees at Lazar Foundation, a supporter of her work as a nonprofit professional, recruited her to be their Executive Director. Over time, more and more donors asked for Sybil's assistance which had her launch her own business to help donors give money away effectively. Lazar Foundation remains a client that Sybil services to this day.

For Sybil there is no better career than helping donors give to the nonprofits they care so much about.

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Your liquidity event is the most important financial transaction of your life. You have one chance to get it right, and you better make it count. 

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Enjoy the interview!


[00:00:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast where you learn how to extract your business and personal Deep Wealth.

I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg.

This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience.

When it comes to your business deep wealth, your exit or liquidity event is the most important financial decision of your life.

But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time and your hard earned money wasted.

Of the quote unquote "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave 50% to over 100% of the deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.

I should know. I said "no" to a seven-figure offer. And "yes" to mastering the art and the science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said "yes" to a different buyer with a nine figure deal.

Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event?

Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing the skills that built your business are the same ones to sell it.

After all, how can you master something you've never done before?

Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and the 9-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the best deal instead of any deal.

At the end of this episode, take a moment and hear from business owners like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience.

Sybil Ackerman Munson has over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit professional and foundation advisor who works with philanthropic institutions and foundations interested in successful, high-impact grant-making to help you make a true and lasting positive contribution to the world on your terms.

Sybil knows what it's like to be a grantee as she spent over 10 years working at environmental nonprofits before transitioning to a foundation advisor.

In her early career. Sybil chose to work in the nonprofit sector because she saw it as a place where she could make a positive impact on the world. Sybil raised money for programs and directed major campaigns for safeguard and steward land and water resources. Sybil decided to transition to working as a foundation advisor when the trustees at Lasar Foundation, as supporters of her work as a nonprofit professional, recruited her to be their Executive Director. Over time, more and more donors asked for Sybil's assistance, which had her launch her own business to help donors give money away effectively. To this day, the Lazar Foundation is a client that Sybil proudly services.

For Sybil, there is no better career than helping donors give to the nonprofits that they care so much about.

Welcome to the Deep Wealth Podcast, and as usual, you would expect nothing less to have a terrific episode. But we have not only a terrific episode, but one that is gonna rock your world, turn it upside down.

And before I have our guest talk, and you heard a little bit of Sybil's background in the formal information, let's do a quick thought experiment with me. Imagine now you've gone through the Deep Wealth Experience. You've learned our nine-step roadmap. You've had a liquidity event beyond liquidity events, and you follow our recommendations of allocating a portion of your newfound wealth to a social cost.

So make a difference setting up a foundation or finding a charity, whatever it may be, to really pay it forward. But where do you start? What do you do? Because for most business owners, when they get to the other side of a liquidity event in the post Exit life, it can be confusing and tiring, and hard.

After today, you're gonna learn some incredible strategies that'll do just the opposite for you and make it worth your while. Have you interested and excited? So I'm gonna stop there. Sybil, welcome to the Deep wealth Podcast. A pleasure to have you with us and Sybil, you know what? There's always a story behind the story.

What's your story? What got you to where you are today?

[00:04:07] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: First of all, thanks for having me on. I'm so pleased to be here. I just feel like this is the start of a long friendship, Jeffrey, so thanks for taking the time. What brought me to what I'm doing today? So many things, but I wanna tell you a little story about why I'm doing what I'm doing and what I do is I help people with wealth give money to important nonprofits and causes that they believe in.

And why do I do this? Why do I want feel so strongly that I wanna devote my life to helping people do good in the world who have wealth? First, I was a nonprofit person. I worked in the world of the nonprofit space, and I raised. And I, my gosh, I saw when people with wealth did a great job at empowering the nonprofits and empowering the people to do good in the world.

But I also saw lots of situations, Jeffrey, where people with wealth ended up wasting their money, actually causing more harm than good in the community. All these kinds of things, and I noticed that. Then I had the good fortune to have one of the donors that I worked with really closely ask if I wanted to run his family foundation.

And I said, Yeah, I would love to. And I jumped right in. I didn't really know what it meant, at the time. This was over a decade ago. But I was lucky when I jumped in because this family gets along. All the family members on the board get along great.

So I was really lucky. And we did grant-making and donations around issues that where I had just come from as a nonprofit person. So it was a great experience. Then I started having other families, additional families, ask if I could help them out and work for them. And I went back to the first family I worked for and I said, hey, how about if I start contracting with other families too, and to their credit, they saw that as a benefit.

And so fast forward to today, that first family is still a client of mine, or is now. I flipped it over to being a client and now I work for lots and lots of people and it's so much fun because I feel like I can really support the field, the nonprofit field, and really support these donors as like a connector.

So now what I do is I get pitched every single day by nonprofits. I process hundreds of proposals some years, and I really help people give money away effectively and also help us, help them and me figure out like if there's a learning if something doesn't work out, let's track that and figure out what happened so that maybe we can give differently later.

In the future. Then the other thing I did was since it's been so many years of these amazing conversations, sitting in trustee meetings, learning so much getting pitched, I started seeing trends. And I feel like it's my responsibility to support more people beyond maybe who I can meet with day-to-day, one-on-one.

 And so I've created a new arm of my business called Do Your Good. Where essentially I've made myself create these little mini-courses. I do a podcast and investigate various areas of how can you be an effective giver. And so I'm sure we're gonna talk about that more today. But that's my little story and I'm sticking to it.

I know that sounds corny, but that's how I felt.

[00:07:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: I love that. It is a terrific story and the fact that really, you've been on both sides. You've been on the side where you're asking for people to donate, and now you're on the other side where you're choosing different places of where you can make a difference, how you can pay that forward.

But why don't we do this? Let's start off with, let's perhaps for the listeners. Help them understand exactly what's going on. And the glass is always half full for you and I and the listeners. But let's look at the opposite side. When we don't know what we're doing, we just go into this.

We're not prepared. We've come into wealth, perhaps we've sold the business, perhaps something else has happened, but we have newfound wealth and we really wanna do some good, but we don't know where to start or what to do. Where can things typically go wrong? What are you seeing out there when you don't have someone like yourself to guide along the way and to give your insights and your expertise, what can go wrong?

And then we can talk about how we're gonna prevent that.

[00:08:19] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, the first thing that can go wrong if you are somebody who is super successful and have had your business bought, it means you're very smart, very good at what you're doing, very driven hats off to you. You're amazing. You've also, you know, probably what it's like to be in the trenches and also fail forward and all that kind of thing.

If you're an entrepreneur, it hasn't always been perfect, a perfect journey. But at the time when you get bought out and when you're in that new place of having quite a bit of money what can happen that I've seen happen is that you start asking questions about an issue. You say I wanna give some money back. People who are from the nonprofit world, if you start going straight to them with let's say you care about climate change or houselessness, any important issue, you start looking up those nonprofits and you reach out to them directly. What happens is the nonprofits don't tell you the full piece of information because they see you as someone with money and they just, and if you say anything, they'll act like your idea is the best idea ever because they want you to feel good, usually.

This is when it goes badly, you don't already have yours of a relationship with any of these groups sometimes if that's the case. And so you get stuck in what I call a funder bubble. Okay, so you're feeling pretty good cuz you've made a lot of money off your business. You're feeling top notch.

You're feeling like the decisions you made in the past to become successful were the right ones. You're believing in your gut. And then you go over to this world that you might care about and know a little bit about, but the nonprofits are telling you everything that they think you wanna hear. And so you're not like in a normal situation where people are pushing back at you, maybe when you're starting your business, you're failing at things cuz people aren't buying a product you're trying to sell.

But here you're, saying, I care about this issue and everyone's saying yes to you and you start thinking, Oh, all my ideas are great. And then what you do is you start funding in those areas thinking because these nonprofits are saying, Oh yeah, it's a perfect idea. You start funding it, and then the project, your funding fails and you go, What the heck?

Everyone told me this was gonna work. Why is it failing? And then you get really grumpy and understandably, and then you stop funding the issue altogether. And I have seen that happen that negative cycle, and my goal in life is to break that cycle.

[00:10:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. You know what? From the outside looking in, if I can use the word scary, it almost seems scary because as you're describing that situation, Sybil, it's like we're the emperor with no clothes. We have all these yes people around us. We've worked very hard for our wealth, the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into the business.

And now to get us to that position where we're gonna be. And it sounds like when we're not prepared, and as you're saying, when we just go directly to some of these charities or these different foundations, it's not the best path. So you've pointed out what could go wrong and what not to do. So let's flip that now.

So I've had a liquidity event and I have this newfound wealth, and maybe I've even been smart enough Sybil where I've brought you on board before the liquidity event. Imagine that. So what have we done before a liquidity event? Before newfound wealth? How have you helped me prepare so that when the day comes I don't have that pressure? I'm not making those mistakes. It's actually enjoyable. Whereas we like to say, Deep Wealth, we can change the social fabric of society. One liquidity event at a time. What would need to happen for that?

[00:11:41] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: I love that. The first thing that's super important is, and I hope that when I say this, that some of your listeners are like, Oh, yeah, check that box off. So that's great. The first thing is, make sure that when you want to do good in the world, you're leaning into an issue that you have some experience and history with.

That's my opinion. Okay. So if let's say you're business, because here the first thing, no matter what you're interested in or know about, there's a do-good nonprofit out there, ready to do it. Okay. That's something important because a lot of times people think, Oh, I need to do the big heady issue. The big thing I'm hearing a lot about.

Don't fall into that trap. Instead, think about your business, Okay? What business have you done? What business have you worked on? Maybe you are someone who has invented a new long-lasting battery that can work in electric cars. Maybe you're somebody who has created an amazing new fashion line, you name it. Write down the things in the business that you've done that may translate over to doing good in the world. Okay? So in the battery example, you know, your battery is going into these electric cars. So maybe there's some really interesting organizations working on promoting electric infrastructure in places that aren't happen, that's not happening yet. Maybe there's low income communities that really want to have access to electric cars but can't find good charging stations, and there's nonprofits trying to work there. So you might have some knowledge about some of this world already.

You might not know tons of the issues that you start leaning into once you get there. But your entry point is one that's not foreign to you.

[00:13:30] Jeffrey Feldberg: That's terrific advice. So really what you're saying is, hey, just because you're out of the business and you may no longer be involved going in day outta the business, maybe you're out of it completely, but that knowledge, that brain trust over the years or even decades that you've created, what you're saying is why not take that and apply that on your philanthropic ventures that you're gonna be doing when you're creating your legacy?

[00:13:52] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, Jeffrey, and lemme tell you a story about this and it might not even be as obvious as like the thing you're selling. So one of my friends and colleagues who's a successful businessman and he sold his company one of the issues that he decided to then focus his foundation on are, were immigration issues because he relied on immigrants for his business. And so that was something that made his business itself was a different focus, like the thing that they were selling, but it was something that he found as important to have his business succeed is that area. And so he knew a lot about it. So he was able to really invest some time.

And then the other thing that's important is in this case, and if you have a liquidity event and you have quite a bit of money to give away, you definitely wanna reach out to people to help you. But if still, if you're leaning into something you know about, you know you want your foundation or your donations to focus on an issue you already know about, then it's easier to hire someone or contract someone, because you'll be able to know if that person really knows their stuff or not, because you'll already know a little bit about the issue.

That's important too, an added benefit.

[00:14:54] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Sybil, let me ask you something because I know for some listeners, I know for certainly myself, every time to time you pick up the newspaper or you're online, you hear this horror story. On the surface, it sounded like a terrific charitable organization. Yet behind the scenes, it was scandalous where most of the money that was going in, it was going to the administration and fancy offices, and it really wasn't getting to the intended audience.

That it was said it was going to go to. And so for someone who's thinking, You know what, Yeah, sure, it'd be nice to perhaps create a legacy and pay it forward and make a difference, but it's just too risky. I don't wanna take my hard-earned money and donate and find out years later I was a fool because it was the wrong organization, or they weren't who they said they were.

What's going on with that? Is that as rampant as we're led to believe? And how do we protect ourselves from that?

[00:15:45] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Well, The first thing to remember is whenever those things go wrong. That's when it gets in the paper. And so remember that most nonprofits are not that way. And there's a lot of legal requirements around a nonprofit with financial disclosures and other things. So there's ways for you to do the proactive research to double check on the quality of an organization that you're gonna fund, organizations get audited, financial audits, you can look at those. They have annual reports. Of course, I know I've been in this situation too with some of my clients where we did all of the due diligence and there still are people who are sneaky in a nonprofit.

That are ending up being fraudulent, but usually, it's an individual and then the organization finds them out. I have some horror stories with that, but that's not necessarily, that's definitely not the norm. And there are ways, of course, you look at those financials very carefully. The other thing that's important is over time if you focus on an issues is why it's so important.

You focus in an area you know something about and that you care about.

You will generate relationships, long-term relationships with the nonprofits that you have been supporting. And you will get to know the executive director, you'll get to know the staff. And so it, as long as you can do those pieces too, then you can have an intimate knowledge with what's going on.

If you yourself don't have time to get to know the executive directors and staff, that's where you hire someone as an intermediary. All they do every day is spend time with the nonprofits you care about and the issues you care about so that you're tracking that in a more intimate way than just generally giving money out.

It's another reason why you wanna be an active investor in this space rather than a passive investor.

[00:17:18] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so let's talk about that active versus passive because I'm sure for some listeners they may be thinking, hey, you know what? I am gonna have some time on my hands not involved in the business. I've picked an area that I'm really passionate about and I'm gonna go in feet first and speak to these people and meet with them and really navigate my way through doing this.

But on the flip side, I'm sure there's people that are saying, I just want to enjoy my life. I do wanna make a difference, but I don't wanna be in meetings and I've done enough due diligence in my liquidity event. I don't wanna do that again. And go through diligence on different causes and charities and foundations.

So, for the person who is saying, I wanna make a difference, but I don't necessarily want to spend the time or have the time doing that, how would someone like yourself step in and help with that?

[00:18:02] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yes, let's talk about that. Okay. So if you really wanna make a difference and you don't have a lot of time, still go through spend a weekend and think about what's the issue you wanna lean into and what do you already know about, cuz that'll save you time in the long run. And then what you can do is you can hire a person who's I see as an intermediary, somebody like me who knows the issues and also knows how to give money away.

And so what then what you do, and this is what I do for my clients, is they'll contract me to be the one who is the direct interface with the different nonprofits. Essentially they say Sybil I care about in my expertise is in environment and natural resources. So they'll come to me and they'll say, I care about environmental and natural resources issues specifically, let's say forest issues or something like that. And then they'll say, Sybil, I care about X part of this issue. And then I say, Okay, I go then out and I meet with the nonprofits, I create a whole narrative for them and I talk about who the key people would be and the organization specifically they might wanna fund.

And then I meet with them once or twice a year and I recommend to them a whole suite of nonprofits that they may wanna give to. And so I've done all of that busy work and a lot of times to the people I work with either wanna be anonymous, Or they really don't want to have tons and tons of emails and stuff cause they have their life that they need to live themselves.

And so I do that. The people will email me and then I'll be able to like, prioritize things I know my clients care about. So that's something they can do. Another thing that a person can do if they don't have a lot of time, but they don't necessarily also wanna hire someone either or contract someone.

They can find funder collaboratives, groups of funders that are working on a similar issue that they care about. And a lot of times there are professional organizations that have staff that then like once a year will bring all of those people together. And then they also bring in like the top nonprofits of that issue.

And you can come together once a year, meet with your fellow people who are donors, and then meet with some of the top nonprofits and get in just one week. Just so much rich information. And then you can then give, and you can compare notes with other funders too, and other professionals in the field.

So there's ways to find out, how to connect up with some of those funder, collaborative. There's a little cost usually that you have to pay to be part of that mix, but it can a lot of times help you. So those are just two suggestions I have if you wanna make a difference. But you don't have the time yourself that can be really helpful that way.

There's a third suggestion I have as well. There are organizations that I call like full on intermediary organizations where they will take, if there's a particular issue you care about, you can do a donation to that organization and then they'll re-grant out through that organization.

They'll pool a bunch of donor funds on an issue and then they'll put that money back out. Energy Foundation is an example of one of those kinds of organizations. Resources Legacy Fund. These are just two in the environmental space, but there's equivalent kind of organizations. They are public charities that you can donate to and then they will go, they'll re-grant out.

[00:21:20] Jeffrey Feldberg: So it sounds like you have so many different options of how you can go about doing this on your own with someone like yourself, with what I'll call community source to other philanthropists who want to get together and do this and make a difference. Let's go now beyond that, and for some listeners, part of the philanthropy, it's really about legacy for them.

When all is said and done, why did I walk on this earth? What did I do? What's gonna be remaining when there is no longer myself? And I've passed on and gone on to other things. Whatever that case may be for a legacy, how can the legacy component be addressed in the best way, in the right way when it comes to paying it forward?

And the philanthropy side of things.

[00:22:03] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: I really love that question. There's things you can do in your lifetime, and then there's things you can do upon your passing that also are really important. And there's the logistics of the money piece of it. And then there's also what you do on the issue to have a lasting legacy. So I feel like we should unpack it in lots of different ways here. First, let's talk about your donations and what you would donate during your lifetime, and then after your passing, and then let's talk about the issue and how you build that issue up, how you care about, so then even after you pass, it's moving in a direction that's positive for the world.

On the money side, a lot of times when I talk with folks, they'll say, Oh we are gonna do the bulk of our giving after we pass through donations that way. I wanna encourage you to think about giving while you're alive. And then also saving some for after you're passing. But giving while your alive allows you to be more directly impactful in the issue you're caring about because you're able to be here and help move the issue along through either professional support, your collaborative work that you're doing with other folks, and you really don't know what the world's gonna be like in a hundred years.

We have no idea. Imagine people a hundred years ago creating a charitable trust. How could they ever really know? So what you're able to do now and set things up is really helpful and really important. And then over the long haul after your, you know, if you save some funding for the future.

The kind of funding too that you might wanna give in your will would be for longer, larger, more established organizations that are linked to the cause. While you're alive, you can probably do smaller, more nimble, experimental kinds of donations to see which things might work to help move the cause and issue you care about. So that's another thing to think about on that side of things.

[00:24:03] Jeffrey Feldberg: All interesting things there. Let's just pause for just a moment because a few things that are there and some terrific advice. And so what I'm hearing is, number one, you don't have to wait until you've passed on and no longer here that while you're here not only can you do your activities and paid forward and make a difference, you didn't quite say it this way, I don't wanna put the words in your mouth, but it almost sounds like you can take more chances with perhaps foundations that aren't as established because you are here and you can always change courses if it's not working out the way that it should.

Versus when you have passed on, you're gonna want to pick more established foundations that are, have stood the test of time and to do that. So I think that's a terrific insight. But the whole idea of giving while you're alive, and for some people, they're saying, You know what, Sybil, Yeah, sounds great.

When I have my liquidity event, then I'll give, then I'll have my legacy, then I'll be happy. But I'm wondering, Sybil, for someone who has the golden handcuffs, that the wealth is locked in the business and for up to 90% of business owners, that is the case where the wealth is locked into the business. Is there still a way where they can make a difference?

They can begin working on that legacy, on that philanthropic kind of effort and initiative before selling the business.

[00:25:17] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. There's some really wonderful examples of this. The business itself can gift and you can even involve your employees to think through what are some of the most important areas that you wanna give. REI, Patagonia, the list goes on of businesses that give through their business. Two causes that are linked to sometimes what they're all the different connections, like the same kind of things you consider once you have your liquidity event and you wanna give money. I'm still saying focus on what you know, but in this case, I've seen businesses, go into the company itself and talk to the employees about what they care about.

The other cool thing that companies do that I think is amazing and wonderful is they encourage their employees to do volunteer days. Tree plantings, other things really cool. I know it's doing good in the world, but it also helps with your marketing as well. So there's a win there, and it can help set you up too for, after the liquidity event.

If you've already got experience giving in a certain area and you're really liking that area and you're getting to know it, then when you have that liquidity event, you can continue your efforts and work there.

[00:26:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: And what I like about that is in part of that philanthropy, what I'm hearing you say is through activities through to having staff take time off. And you gave the example of planting trees as one example. I'm sure there's many others that go along with that. It doesn't always have to be dollars and cents.

It can be your time, your input, your activities, but you're still making a difference.

[00:26:44] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Well, And that's another important point I wanted to make is, although I'm laughing at myself, important points, but when I was talking about that funder bubble problem in the beginning, like the biggest worry and problem that you can have the thing that. Another way to stay out of what I call a funder bubble is if you're interested in an issue, volunteer for the nonprofit because people forget that you have money, then you know you, sometimes, so if you're on the board or if you're out there tree planting, or if you're doing anything you wanna do with them, you start seeing the nitty gritty and you start getting pushback from other folks. And that's when you know that you're succeeding is when people tell you their real opinions on things, and you put yourself in positions that make people comfortable to tell you their real opinions on things. And volunteering and taking that time is great. Now, again, we talked about how not everyone has that time, and if you don't have time to do those kinds of things, that's when you hire an intermediary who is, That's all they do.

So that, that's their profession is to get that real information out there and understand it so that they, So you then can start funding so someone will feel comfortable saying, Hey look, there's a group that's really not playing well with everybody else, and that group might be the best fundraiser ever, but they're actually, their ideas aren't really gonna work on the ground that kind of thing. You wanna start getting that information to be able to make good investments in your strategy.

[00:28:03] Jeffrey Feldberg: So it sounds again, preparation, as I like to say, it's always the gift that keeps on giving in its own way. It's helping you just cement things. So by preparing in advance and getting active and involved, if that's what you wanna do, if that fits your lifestyle, it really paves away later on to make things much more comfortable and easier on the philanthropic side.

[00:28:24] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yep. Yep. And I have a four-step strategy that I help think through with my clients. And this is if they're just starting out now, I have clients that are super experienced and we do different things, but this is like the beginning step strategy to really focus you in. And the four-step strategy is, First, think about what you do every day.

Just think about it and write it down. And the second thing is, what are your hobbies? What do you love doing? Okay. And then the third thing is do you have a special location or place you go to at least once or twice a year? That just gives you rejuvenation and like you love it so much. And then the fourth thing is, what are the things that keep you up at night?

What are the things you worrying about? And I have you write all of those things down. And then what's gonna happen is you're gonna find some through lines where there's things you do every day. There's hobbies. You also do, there's places you love to go that give your rejuvenation. But those same things also cause you some. Like problems, you wanna solve in these situations. Like maybe there's a place you love to go and you're a long distance runner and it's a location like that, but the place that you're going for long-distance running, you also notice that there's a lot of folks that are now houseless and they're living in the area that you're running through, and so you're worried about those people that's a place that you fund, so that's the exercise that I have people do first to really help them link.

[00:29:42] Jeffrey Feldberg: And so whether it's on the personal side, a little earlier Sybil, you're talking about how you can actually link your business and your team in the business to joining you with this. It really sounds like the only limit is your imagination and what you wanna do.

[00:29:56] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: exactly. And then only limits your imagination. And then to apply your ideas. Just be super careful that you just don't go too fast and that you think about how to do it in a way that. Allows you to get the real information, the real scoop as you move forward.

[00:30:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: Love that. And so let's now fast forward, I'm a business owner. I've met with you. I've brought you on board as an Advisor for me, just like I have my other advisors. I have an investment banker as an Advisor, a tax planner who's an Advisor, said you're now my Advisor when it comes to my legacy when it comes to my philanthropic kinds of activities, and we've now planned this out well in advance.

We've got everything figured out. Liquidity event happens, and we now put that plan into action. Or maybe we've been doing some of it ahead of time, but now at a much larger scale. Sybil, when you look back to some of the families that you've helped and some of your clients, can you share with us a few success stories of what it could look like when all of a said and done?

[00:30:55] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, the success stories happen when you're pretty clear up front what your measurables and your benchmarks are gonna be over the future years. So if you've really thought through what does success mean to me? What success does success mean to us? So let me give you some examples. Of course, my clients are anonymous, so what I'm gonna do, not anonymous, but I don't, they don't wanna be for obvious reasons.

So I'll change facts just a little bit, but I'm gonna give you the stories with the information. One example is one of the families I work with, they care very much about environment and natural resource work.

And for about five years, we created a plan for them that was looking at how do they support, and they were supporting smaller grassroots environmental organizations.

And these organizations were working on clean water and on forest protection and all different things. And the problem though was that the family is diverse enough in their desired outcomes that after five years we had this sort of heart to heart and they said, I don't know. We don't feel that connected to this strategy.

We like you Sybil and we like what we're doing, but we thought we created these measurables and benchmarks that make us like, feel connected to the community and to what's happening. But we just don't, even though we love the idea. And so what we did was we sat down and we had another big conversation about what do they really want to see and what do they really like, and we realized that they had a really strong sense of place.

Their sense of place is more in the Mount Hood area in Oregon and so what we're doing now is we've transitioned and we are focus. They have multiple generations of families that live in that area. And so we've transitioned to really leaning into how do we support watershed councils and community and thinking through a vibrant, resilient community in the Mount Hood area. And so that's my job. As I'm going out, I'm meeting with these wonderful people, thinking about this and the family is going about to just this week, this upcoming week, we're gonna go out on a nice field tour to talk with folks and really think through how to do this.

And I feel like the family is much happier now in terms of thinking through Okay, they can really go. It's really close to their heart and close to what they really know. And that will help them. And we're thinking through really carefully now, what are the areas of why are they so inspired by this? Let's write all this down and like really think through this.

So then in five years we can keep digging deeper and support the community even more. Because that's the thing we don't wanna do too much, is switch around. Switch it up too much. Because once you become a sustaining funder of a particular community and support network there that's really important to that community.

So that's just one story. There's so many other ones, but that's the one that, that I think is great. I'd love to tell a second one if you had time, but I'll wait and see what you want me to do.

[00:33:49] Jeffrey Feldberg: Absolutely. We're gonna do that. But before we do, what's interesting and what's really fascinating about the story that you shared is when you think about your legacy or your philanthropic kinds of endeavors, It's really like a business, is what it's sounding and in the last story, you said, hey, they started down one path, but somewhere along the line, for whatever reason, they lost interest.

No problem. We regrouped. We refocused, and we redeployed. Just like in business

And you're better for it, right? You're stronger. Sometimes when you hear about these kinds of initiatives, it almost seems like it's forever. Once you start, it can't stop. But you're saying no, if you lose interest, you're in control.

You change it. And then the other takeaway from that story is, again, it's like a business. It's a different kind of business. It's not going to necessarily take all of your time and your effort. You can have someone like yourself help you, but it's really like a business and it has a mission and a vision, and you have a strategy and it changes as you go along, but it's something that really, It sounds like it takes on a legacy of its own as you start putting this into place.

Would that be correct?

[00:34:54] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yeah, but Jeffrey, what I wanna emphasize here, and I really like this conversation because I think this really helped put a fine point on it for me, it's like a business, but here's the difference, cuz I run a business also. I know if I'm trying to sell something and it's not selling, then people aren't interested, so I have to change things.

That's one of my markers for it not working. And then you switch things up and you figure out how to make it work.

The problem or the challenge with giving money away is you don't get that feedback that as quickly. And so you don't really, you know, you might be less inspired by something.

But it's more difficult and tricky, and that's where you need the professionals and you also need to make sure you keep outta that funder bubble, so at least you can get some input there because sometimes it's not as clear cut, the policy wins or the other things that you might be trying to do.

And you also need to be, try to write down benchmarks, but be nimble and flexible. I know it's a longer game, so that's a little bit of the challenge you have there. That's a little different I think from the business part of things, but they can complement each other if your eyes wide open about it.

[00:36:00] Jeffrey Feldberg: Well, Fair enough. And exactly, that's the key eyes wide open. So you're not going into a blind. You're being smart about it and surrounding yourself with the right people who can give you the right insights. So Sybil, let's hear that second story. You've kept us in suspense. What's going on with that?

[00:36:15] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Well, the second story is, I think, a really great success story. I love it so much. So this one family I'm working with, they are so special to me and they are second and third generation. The gentleman who had the major liquidity event, he's passed now, so this is his family.

When he passed, he had very clear guidelines for the foundation. There's also a business part of this whole thing, but this is the foundation piece and very clear guidelines about what he wanted to have funded. And so the family is carrying on his legacy and they're doing it very well, and they're doing something really cool.

So each family member that's on the foundation board they don't have a ton of time. They have full-time lives. So what they've done is each one of them has assigned themselves one or two nonprofits that they get to know pretty well over multiple, multiple years.

And every year they give, grants them and once a year, they get together no more than once a year.

So they get together for other things, but for this particular project, and they'll talk about their favorite conversations with their various nonprofits and they'll compare notes there. So that's super cool. Then what they did was they contract with me to do something that they call a campaign fund.

So they care about environment and natural resource work, and the nonprofits they fund every year tend to say, hey, I'm so glad you're funding us, but here's the thing, there's this major issue that we're trying to tackle and we just can't get through it. We need something called a campaign, which means we might need more grassroots support, more communication support, more various things.

And so what I do is then I'll come in and I'll do additional grants to help them move an issue forward, and then I present to the family as well, and I have to recommend these grants to them. And then they say yes or no. And so it's a helpful facilitation to move forward on things that they might care about.

So it's this really neat combination of both sustaining an organization and also campaigning at the same time within the same foundation. So I love that story.

[00:38:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: Yeah. Wow. So it sounds like when someone brings you on board, a client brings you on board, you can take their vision. And really make it a reality in the best of ways that as a business owner, I'm just thinking of myself as a business owner to start doing some of these things. I would never even know where to begin or what to think.

And I like how you're putting this out there and you're really having different organizations. Not compete, but they are competing to make sure that they can meet the goals, and then you're filtering them out and then you're bringing the best of the best to the individual or the family, and they can decide and then things move forward from there.

It sounds like it doesn't really get any better.

[00:38:50] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: It's so rewarding and it really is a nice, The thing that's nice is that like it's all about doing good. And it's all about supporting all these great nonprofits and supporting them to have a voice in the next steps, and then you can make sure your investment in making the world a better place is done as well as possible.

And it's not just haphazard based on whoever is the loudest yeller, the loudest at getting your attention. That's not always the best person to fund, or I'm not person but a nonprofit to fund. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. This has been such a delightful conversation. Thanks for having me on.

[00:39:22] Jeffrey Feldberg: Well, It's been a pleasure and you know what? Sybil, before we start to wrap things up and that's the direction that we're heading, I'm gonna ask a difficult question and let's see what you can come up with. What, if a listener could only take away one strategy outta this conversation as they think about their legacy, as they think about philanthropy and really paying it forward, what would that one strategy or that one insight be?

[00:39:46] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Stay true to your heart. And trust your gut, but ask good questions, and don't let the hard questions stop you from giving. Keep going forward because there's a lot of good to do in this world, and you can do it.

[00:40:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific advice there. And you know what? If you took that outta the context, we're talking philanthropy here and paying it forward, you could take that same advice and put it onto the business side. So solid, solid advice. But let's do this now Sybil. We're gonna start wrapping this up. Unfortunately, we're gonna start wrapping this up.

I mean, You and I could just go on and on.

[00:40:22] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Totally. totally.

[00:40:24] Jeffrey Feldberg: Let's do a quick thought experiment, and this is the same question, Sybil that I'm very fortunate and privileged to ask every guest on the Deep Wealth Podcast. And here it is, I'd like you to think about the movie Back to the Future, and in the movie, you have that magical DeLorean car, which can take you to any point in time.

So Sybil, here's where things get exciting. Imagine now tomorrow morning you look outside your window and there it is. The DeLorean car is not only waiting, but the door is open, waiting for you to hop on in so you can go to any point in your life, maybe Sybil as a young child or a teenager, whatever point in time it would be Sybil.

What are you telling your younger self in terms of life wisdom or lessons learned, or, hey Sybil, do this, but don't do that. What would that sound like?

[00:41:09] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: I had to go back to about 1988 and I'd say to myself, Sybil, take a breath, move forward, and make sure that you're leaning into environmental and natural resources issues in a way that listens to other people. At the time, I was a little bit fast on things and I wasn't listening enough, and I learned how to do that over time, but I wish I had done that earlier.

[00:41:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. So slow it down. Listen more.

[00:41:42] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Yes. I found that really helps

[00:41:43] Jeffrey Feldberg: Terrific advice and so we're gonna have all of this in the show notes for our listeners, if they'd like to reach you online and contact you, what would be the best place

[00:41:53] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: Oh, it's so easy to reach me. I started a business called Do Your Good. For obvious reasons. So on the web, you just go to And then the social area that I'm, social media area I'm most focused on is Instagram. And that's just the at sign. @doyourgood, all one word. And it's really easy to reach me there or and on the web.

And then I'm just sybil[@]doyourgood[dot]com is my email too.

[00:42:22] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay. Terrific. A number of ways to get in touch with you and for listeners will be all in the show notes. It won't be any easier point and click and that's it off you go. Well, Sybil, this is an official wrap. Thank you so much for taking part of your day and spending with us here on the Deep Wealth Podcast, and as always, please say healthy and safe.

[00:42:41] Sybil Ackerman-Munson: You too, Jeffrey. Thanks for the time.

[00:42:43] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me.

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[00:45:12] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?

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