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Advisor Highlight: Gloria Buckingham

Advisor Highlight: Gloria Navarro Buckingham

The Benefits of Giving Local: For Maui attorney Gloria Navarro Buckingham, learning more about the local and grassroots nonprofits in her community is the key to effective philanthropy.

Even though Maui attorney Gloria Navarro Buckingham gives her clients advice on charitable giving, the learning goes both ways.

That was the case when she visited Assistance Dogs of Hawaiʻi, where she helped present a donation from her client’s estate and met some of the four-legged recipients. Buckingham had been aware of the small nonprofit, but knew little else about its mission, approach, or costs.

“Each dog costs about $10,000, and they train dogs that are sent throughout the islands,” she says. “One of their dogs is now at Queen’s. He wears a badge and goes around the hospital to help doctors and nurses. It was a really special visit, and quite impactful.”

It’s the type of organization Buckingham likes to know about so she can share the information with clients. She says she often encourages clients to consider local and grassroots organizations when deciding where to give, something the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) can help facilitate and advise on.

“I think educating yourself about the need in your local community can make your impact greater, in terms of our work as professional advisors, because we do have so many connections,” she says.

As an attorney focused on estate planning, trust administration, and probate, Buckingham says philanthropy is often part of her conversations with clients.

“I generally throw it out there right at the very beginning, so they can start to think about it early in the process,” she says. “Some of my clients walk in focused on giving, and others haven’t thought about it.”

Buckingham was named one of the HCF’s 2015 Outstanding Professional Advisors in Philanthropy.

Buckingham wasn’t exposed to philanthropy growing up in California. With a mom who had eight kids and a full-time job, there just wasn’t time to give back beyond school fundraisers. But she says moving to Maui as an adult opened her eyes to the nonprofit world.

Several of her new friends were active in local organizations, including the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and the Pacific Cancer Foundation, and they invited Buckingham to get involved.

“A light went on,” she says. “Coming into this community, I felt like I was embraced by the community in a lot of ways. I felt like, ‘You’ve got to give back.’”

Today, she contributes by volunteering, including serving on the board of The Maui Farm, a nonprofit that provides residential family-strengthening programs in a farm environment.

In addition to bringing up philanthropic giving early in the conversation with clients, Buckingham’s approach includes encouraging clients to think about the causes they find meaningful, and then look beyond the largest and most visible nonprofits to find niche organizations where their gift can have the greatest impact.

And while many clients think of philanthropy in terms of their estate plan, she has begun also encouraging some, if they can afford it, to consider giving during their lifetime.

“With the assistance dogs, I just wish my client could have been there to see the director’s and the board’s reaction to her gift,” she said. “So I do say to my clients, if they’re comfortable, ‘You know, you don’t have to wait. It’s kind of fun!’”

To learn more about how the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation can help advise and make the most of your clients’ charitable giving, visit https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/professional-advisors.