Ignite connects philanthropists, benefactors

Susan Ingmire is frank about the type of philanthropists she works with. “The vast majority would not be a good fit.” As president of Ignite Philanthropy Advisors, a “niche player,” Ingmire works with individuals and organizations who need help giving money away.

Some have inherited money and want to do a good job giving it away charitably. Others want help identifying their priorities, then mapping out a strategy that allows them to give according to certain goals, such as promoting education or supporting the arts. “It’s sometimes hard for people to say no when asked to give. If you have a strategy, then you can say we give in the areas of arts, education or health care. It’s how people learn to say no, or we say it for them,” Ingmire says. She teaches these investors to decide what to give and to whom, and even how to research organizations that pique their interest.

The firm mainly works on a retainer basis with Cincinnati-area clients giving away at least $25,000-$50,000 a year and up, with her smallest foundation gifting about $100,000 annually. Most business comes through referrals, especially from local attorneys and accountants. They provide advice, demystify the giving process and even offer administrative support, such as preparing agendas for foundation board meetings, writing checks and processing mail.

Ingmire started in the field as a serial volunteer, working as a foundation volunteer, mentor and with arts and housing programs. She also spent a decade with Fifth Third Bank’s trust department. And her idea of doing “less than I used to” means staying involved with the YWCA, Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, United Way and her church. And after spending so much time in the trenches, she embraces the joy in helping others support nonprofits. “When we can call up somebody and say, you’re getting $30,000 and here’s why, it’s a real joy.”

By Robin Donovan

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