Between Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the billionaire "Giving Pledge" has plenty of star power, but the nuances contain insight that advisors can use to frame the dreaded "philanthropic conversation" with clients.
First and foremost, the adventures of Gates, Buffett, and company are a great bit of gossip that can turn into a deeper talk about how your clients may want to give back to the world around them -- and structure that charitable urge into the right vehicles.
Many advisors are reluctant to bring up the subject because they feel that it's somehow "personal" and not a financial matter. But odds are good their clients have actually been hoping to talk about these issues themselves, but never found the right way to open the topic.
Second, Gates says that in his experience self-made billionaires are more philanthropically minded than those who inherited their wealth. That might be a generalization based on his social circles -- he tends to associate more with industrialists, entertainment moguls, and investors than with East Coast Old Money -- but it's a viable data point.
Mentioning Gates' insight to your clients who may have built and sold their own business (or are still running it) will generate an automatic response: either "me too" or "not me."
And from there, you know who's receptive to talking about charitable trusts, donor advised funds, the entire world of philanthropy that gives you another way to demonstrate how much value you add. Simple, risk-free, relatively painless to all concerned.