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“As an independent advisor, Sarah is extremely attuned to her client’s needs and goals. She brings tremendous knowledge and experience and effectively uncovers and addresses all of the ‘issues.’ We felt that her approach was specifically designed for us, and she made sure we were comfortable with the journey and at the same time challenged us to see our philanthropy and our process in new ways.”

~Craig & Sarah

Sound Philanthropy Clients

Sarah & Craig: The Benefits of a Past Giving Analysis
How Sarah Hopper of Sound Philanthropy Created a Couple's New, Streamlined Approach to Giving

The Challenge

Craig and Sarah, a husband-and-wife team, became significant philanthropists after selling their company. But after several years of ramped-up giving, they had become frustrated: they rarely enjoyed a process they found overly complicated and too time consuming. They wanted to feel more connected to their grantees without having to commit to more time. They also wanted to approach their adult children (all in their 20s) about getting involved, but were unsure how. They needed to streamline and reconceive their giving plan.


The Solution

As a philanthropic advisor, I often work with individuals and families whose previous giving experience hasn’t been the positive, rewarding experience it could be. By conducting a review and analysis of past giving—including grantees, systems, and approach—I can pinpoint the areas in an existing giving plan that must change or evolve to meet a client’s current needs and lifestyle.  Understanding each individual family member is important, too; an effective giving plan must take into account personal relationships, family dynamics, psychology, and family culture. 


With Craig and Sarah, I began by interviewing the couple separately, to collect candid thoughts on a variety of topics, including decision-making, time commitment, family involvement, giving style, and budget. I then met with the couple together to explore their common values, to clarify priority issue areas for giving, and to review operational structure. I conducted an in-depth analysis of their past giving.


I also worked directly with their adult children. By developing trusting relationships with each family member while simultaneously fulfilling the role of an objective, compassionate “outsider,” I was able to help the entire family come together and find common ground.

The Result

Craig and Sarah received a comprehensive report that identified problem trends and patterns and recommended solutions designed to allow the couple to maintain connections with specific grantees without getting bogged down with time commitments. My report challenged them to consider new approaches to their philanthropy—a streamlined process that reduced the number of grantees and the administrative burden—and to embrace a strategy guided by an established, shared vision. The report also included:

  • A draft mission statement.

  • Guiding principles.

  • Immediate and long-term recommended action steps and timeline.

  • A resource section to guide decision-making.

  • A specific grantmaking budget aligned with their mission and priorities.


For Craig and Sarah, having a new, personalized giving plan—complete with structural tools and decision-making systems—relieved their frustration and renewed their love of giving. The couple discovered a new approach to their extensive philanthropic work, and a way to thoughtfully engage their children. The once overwhelming process became clear and focused; the new plan worked with their lifestyle, priorities, and needs—not against them. Stepping back to reevaluate enabled Craig and Sarah to move forward with joy.


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