ProBonoPlannerMatch.org Nonprofit FAQ
Pro Bono Financial Planning: An Overview for Nonprofits will help you understand how CFP® professional volunteers can help your nonprofit organization’s clients.
The CFP® professional credential is often called the “gold standard” for financial planning professionals because of the high level of ethics, professionalism, competency and experience that it represents. Importantly, a CFP® professional must act as a ‘fiduciary’ in serving all clients – paid and pro bono — which means that CFP® professionals must place their clients’ needs above their own when delivering financial planning advice.
CFP® professionals must acquire several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients and pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam before they can call themselves a CFP® professional; and they are bound by the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.
CFP® professional volunteers can help low- to moderate- income individuals and families in many ways by assessing their financial situations, challenges, and questions and providing objective, ethical advice and actionable steps for improvement. For example, volunteer financial planners can often help pro bono clients:
- See and understand the ‘big picture’ in their financial lives, then set and prioritize goals
- Create or assess a household budget and balance sheets
- Organize their finances, track and reduce expenses, and manage or prioritize debts
- Save for an emergency fund, other major needs, and even begin to invest
- Understand complex financial concepts and products, including insurance, mortgages and taxes
- Navigate employee and government benefits like Social Security and Medicare
- Avoid scams and predators
- And much more…
You may wish to engage a CFP® professional volunteer to augment your existing financial coaching or capability program; to add capacity and expertise to current services such as pro bono legal help; or for other purposes that can improve the lives of lower-income people who need financial guidance. For more information on engaging financial advisors to help your constituents, please see 7 steps Nonprofits Can Use to Get Started.
The Foundation for Financial Planning is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization, solely devoted to supporting the delivery of pro bono financial planning to at-risk people who otherwise could not afford this service, including active military members and wounded veterans, people with cancer and other serious medical diagnoses, seniors and family caregivers, low-income individuals and their families, domestic violence survivors and many more.
FFP supports pro bono financial planning programs that offer people in need free, no-strings-attached guidance that is confidential, interactive, personalized and actionable. We emphasize one-on-one interactions between the volunteer planner and client; small, interactive workshop settings where the client has the opportunity to have personal interaction with the planner can also qualify.
Pro bono clients must be unable to easily afford or access financial planning on their own. Thus ‘pro bono’ is truly a donation of services to those in need – never done for the purposes of lead generation or paid client cultivation.
For more information about our definition click here.
Volunteer opportunities that engage CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals in one-on-one or interactive, small group sessions with pro bono clients, fostering personalized financial planning advice. These can be via stand-alone program offerings or part of a larger program at your organization that helps people who are underserved by the market and could not otherwise access objective, ethical advice.
CFP® professional volunteers can contribute in a number of ways — through multi-touch financial coaching or financial mentorship programs; through one-touch financial counseling clinics; through small, interactive workshops where participants can get personal feedback; etc.
PLEASE NOTE: This platform is NOT intended for opportunities that deliver financial literacy education to large groups, such as lectures on financial topics with no opportunity for personal engagement between planner and clients/participants. We promote opportunities that emphasize one-on-one and small group interactive engagement with action steps that are personalized for the client/participant.
While the Foundation for Financial Planning encourages volunteers to take the online Pro Bono Financial Planning Volunteer Training, nonprofit organizations typically provide additional training specific to each individual program or opportunity.
Pro Bono Planner Match is designed to help you get to the right CFP® professional volunteer as quickly as possible. Submit an opportunity and interested CFP® professionals will be able to view your request. If they are interested in signing-up to volunteer, or in learning more, they will be able to reach out via phone or email. You can arrange for the volunteer opportunities to be in-person or you can set them up for remote service delivery (via Skype/Facetime, phone and email). Because they are more flexible, remote opportunities will typically attract more volunteers.
There is no limit to the number of volunteer opportunities you can submit. However, it is important to remember that each volunteer opportunity requires an investment of time and resources as you are responsible for the training and management of the volunteers and your overall program. The best outcomes – for both the pro bono clients and the volunteers – are achieved when the program is a high priority for your nonprofit.
To use Pro Bono Planner Match, FFP asks that you respond to volunteer inquiries within 48 hours.
Follow these steps:
- login to your profile
- select “users” in the left panel
- select “new” on the right side
- enter the users first/last name and email
This should trigger a password reset email to your new contact. If they don’t receive the email, it may be in their junk folder.
FFP verifies that each new volunteer registrant on this platform is a CFP® professional in good standing with the CFP Board, but does not perform screening beyond that. However, you can find financial advisor disciplinary actions or bankruptcy disclosed via the following publicly available websites:
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA): https://brokercheck.finra.org/
- S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/IAPD/
- Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board): https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/choose-a-cfp-professional/verify-a-cfp-professional
9. Does the Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) provide resources I can use for program planning?
Yes, on FFP’s website, we provide a number of tools and resources, many developed by FFP grantees, that can help you as you develop and execute your programs. These include:
- Sample Volunteer Agreement Disclaimer:This disclaimer, developed by FFP, ensures that pro bono financial planners and nonprofit organizations agree to a set of terms as they engage with one another.
- Sample Financial Habits Survey: This survey, developed by Britepaths, can be taken by clients prior to and post- financial planning sessions as a part of a nonprofit’s performance measurement process.
- Sample Volunteer Resource Manual:This manual, developed by Goodwill of Lane and South Counties, was developed to give volunteers access to information that will support its Prosperity Center. It contains information about community resources including childcare, housing, food, health insurance, career counseling, vehicle purchase, education, and more.
We also ask that you to use this Sample Client / Planner Letter of Engagement. A letter of engagement, which must be signed by the financial planner and the client, is an important tool in a pro bono relationship. The Financial Planning Association also provides a similar sample letter of engagement for FPA members that engage in pro bono financial planning.
Samples of worksheets for use during one-on-one engagements: