Meet Sally Alspaugh, CLU, ChFC, CAP

Reprinted from:
CAP Share, Advancing the Philanthropic Conversation
The American College of Financial Services, Issue 26: July 2017

Those of us who have the good fortune to know Sally Alspaugh are immediately touched by her warm, engaging manner and easy smile. Drawing on her depth of knowledge and a keen ability to clarify the complex issues of family legacy planning and estate tax laws, Sally has helped to inspire and motivate families to design their legacy in a way that reflects their personal values and experiences.

Sally with SnakeSally’s transition to the world of philanthropy grew from seeds planted during her career in life insurance and estate planning with Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, now CIGNA. Simultaneously she established the Clarus Group in suburban Cincinnati serving clients in dual capacities as both fee-based consultants through Clarus Consulting and as investment advisers through Clarus Financial.

As philanthropic planning became a major emphasis in her work with clients, Sally sold her company in 2007 to become an independent Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, presenting her advanced philanthropic and charitable giving strategies in language audiences can understand. As a consultant, she works with families on their legacy plans and with nonprofit organizations, helping them to capture the hearts of their donors.

Her work in the Cincinnati area has brought her acclaim and respect in the media. Sally has been a guest expert on radio and in print, and was a featured columnist in the financial section of the Cincinnati News Eastside Weekend for years. She is also a past president of the International Association of Advisors (AiP), a past board member of the AiP Foundation, and past winner of AiP’s annual Fithian Leadership Award.

Sally also finds time to share her expertise with students in the CAP® program, having recently moderated two successful online National CAP® Study Groups. “CAP® has most specifically helped me to see the BIGGER picture,” she believes. “Donors, professional advisors and nonprofits have different backgrounds, agendas and goals. It takes good listening, discernment, wisdom and patience to navigate through these various waters in order to reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to all.” Most importantly, Sally recognizes that a CAP® should start out understanding what the donor/ client wants to achieve, and then blend in the other parties to the conversation.

Family Legacy Planning 

In her private practice as a philanthropic consultant, Sally has developed a comprehensive two-part workshop called “Building Family Legacies Through Philanthropy.” “The first half is Legacy Past and the second half is Legacy Future,” she explained, “because the word legacy [can be used] both ways when you look it up in the dictionary.” From this thought, she originated a phrase that embodies the premise of the workshop: “When memories are shared they become stories, stories reveal values, values can lead to a vision and the vision can lead to a legacy.”

The exercises Sally developed for the workshops have spurred a di erent dynamic that she feels enables families to share things with each other that they may not have revealed before. She starts out with a helpful fill-in-the-blank phrase borrowed from Scott Farnsworth in Florida – “I come from a family who (BLANK)… and from them I learned (BLANK) …” Those two sentences, claims Sally, are an easy way to get people to open up and reveal their stories.

Planned Giving in a Nonprofit Setting 

When she began working at Xavier University in 2010, a Jesuit Catholic University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sally carried her successful techniques to planned giving on a full-time basis for the institution.

With their blessing, she continued her presentations to donors on behalf of the University until 2014 when she “exchanged students for animals” and accepted her current position with the Cincinnati Zoo as Director of Estate Giving.

Rated by peer zoological parks as one of the best zoos in the nation, the Cincinnati Zoo continues to set the standard for conservation, education and preservation of wild animals and wild spaces. It is an energizing environment and Sally creatively taps the Zoo’s “wow” factor in her role, as when she visits law firms and takes along an animal and its keeper. “That’s the drawing card,” she acknowledges. She then presents content and tells them what gifts the zoo is seeing and what gifts they are not seeing. “And then I do a real brief case study with multiple techniques, donor advised funds, sale of a business, and I have to say the attorneys are absolutely engaged because I don’t think they see the multiple techniques to solve a situation, at least not in Cincinnati.”

The Challenges 

When asked about the challenges she faces in her role at the Zoo, Sally finds that most nonprofits are used to thinking of their needs first and not necessarily that of the donor. Although they recognize the importance of the donor’s best interests, it is not always foremost in the conversation. “The need for the gift is so prevalent,” says Sally, “that to get the bigger picture of satisfying family wealth issues is hard to do.” She asserts that her practice has always led her to serve the donor/client first and the Zoo second, but meeting the needs of both is a balancing act.

On the CAP® Program 

During her time as a financial advisor, Sally first learned of the CAP® program from Elton Brooks, the first Wallace Chair in Philanthropy at The American College. “Elton Brooks came to my office and sat across the table from me and asked ‘would you consider being part of a study group to get your CAP®?’ and I just about jumped in his lap!” she laughs. Sally has the distinctive honor of being one of the very first individuals to earn the CAP® designation. “I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to meld the perspectives of donors, advisors and nonprofits into their lives,” she adds. “It can enrich our communities for generations to come.”