Anu Mullikin is a powerhouse of an attorney: a shareholder at Devine Millimet in Manchester, named a 2015 “Best Lawyer” by Best Lawyers in America, selected by peers to be included in “The Best Lawyers in America” in 2016 in the field of trusts and estates, a 2015 SuperLawyer, and named an “Outstanding Woman in Business” by New Hampshire Business Review.
The accolades are great. But here’s what she really loves about her work: the families she meets, and the satisfaction of helping them to achieve their goals.
“I am counseling them and helping them,” she said. “I like the one-on-one, personal touch.”
Her manner is direct, and warm, and laughter plays often around her eyes. She listens carefully, and gets to know her clients well.
Part of helping them is asking about charitable giving.
“It’s incumbent upon the advisors to ask the question,” she said. “If the client says, ‘no, I hate charity,’ then stop talking about it!” she laughs.
An advisor’s job, she said “is to make sure our clients’ wishes are fulfilled.” And that includes a whole host of things – including charity. “I try to make it part of the conversation with everybody.”
At Anu’s firm, attorneys and staff are encouraged to be active in their communities; volunteering and supporting nonprofits is “a given.” And the firm supports more than 70 nonprofits each year. Anu chose to focus on the Charitable Foundation – serving on the Manchester regional advisory board for five years, including one year as chair, and then joining the statewide board of directors in 2009.
“Because of my busy practice and family life, I have limited time to volunteer,” she said, “So I decided to devote all my volunteer time to the Charitable Foundation. I feel like I can accomplish a lot. It’s the most influential charitable organization in the state. Of course I want to be a part of that.” The work is all about improving the quality of life for everyone in New Hampshire.
Anu always tells clients about her affiliation with the Foundation. She makes it clear that “besides the danish in the morning” at board meetings, “I don’t get any kind of remuneration or personal benefit” when she refers people to the Foundation for help with their giving.
I try to make charitable giving part of the conversation with everybody.- Anu Mullikin, trust and estate planning attorney at Devine MillimetTweet This
“When I refer people to the Foundation, it is because I know of the good work the Foundation can do, and I recognize that the client can benefit from working with the staff.” And, she said, “Sometimes the Foundation is not the right fit, in which case I offer other alternatives.”
She said that many people she talks with – those of modest means and the wealthy alike – already give. “People do it because they know it’s important,” she said, but their giving is often “scattered” and lacking a strategy. She helps clients create “a more targeted, leveraged, efficient approach where they can make a difference in a meaningful way.”
The Foundation has helped her to help them.
A client who was interested in promoting literacy programs in Manchester set up a fund to support those efforts. She had reservation about making the gift directly to a single organization. “We found a way to accomplish all her goals,” she said. “It gave her peace of mind.”
Another client had a private foundation but lacked the time to administer it and research which organizations to support. He converted it to a donor-advised fund, and Foundation staff will help identify high-impact organizations in his region working on issues important to him.
“One of the benefits of working with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is that they have skilled staff who identify what you’re interested in and identify the organizations doing it best,” Anu said.
And she helped Lois Roy Dickerman establish a fund at the Foundation that is supporting efforts to combat childhood poverty, bolstering programs that help children and families, providing scholarships, feeding the hungry – and much more.
Anu explained to Lois that she could specify what she wanted to have happen with her charitable gift – and that the Foundation was legally bound to carry out her wishes. “She liked that a lot,” Anu said. Lois had originally considered a private foundation, but was concerned that her wishes would not be fulfilled in future years.
While on the board, Anu helped to shape the Foundation’s new “individually managed fund” option – which allows donors to establish charitable funds while continuing to have their own advisors invest the assets. “It’s a win-win-win for the client, their trusted financial advisor and for the people and communities that will benefit from the charitable gift,” Anu said.
She also worries that some advisors overlook the “charity” question because they don’t feel well-versed enough to be able to help their clients fulfill their goals. She urges them to use the Foundation – and fellow advisors – as a resource. “They don’t have to know everything or have all the answers, they just need to know who to turn to for assistance – the Foundation and its core group of professional advisors are ready to help.”
As she finishes her term on the Foundation’s board, Anu has joined the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund, which makes grants to nonprofits, and the board of Catholic Charities New Hampshire, which runs a variety of programs, including the New Hampshire Food Bank.
She’ll go right on helping New Hampshire people and communities without even breaking stride.