How a Mealtime Conversation Opens New Doors to Client Engagement

Financial advisors: How a community meal can spark deeper client engagement #onthetable Tweet This

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In 2017, The Chicago Community Trust will celebrate the fourth year of its marquee community event On the Table.

On the Table is an annual forum designed to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships and create a unifying experience across the region. Thousands of Chicago-area residents will gather in small groups to share a meal and discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our communities. These conversations can inspire new ways we can work together to make our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic.

In 2016, more than 55,000 community members gathered around 3,500 tables to share a meal and share their visions for a more prosperous and vibrant Chicago.

A text-message survey of participants that evening found that:

  • The most-discussed topics were equity and inclusion; neighborhood and economic development; increasing collaboration; education; and health, with a mental health focus.
  • Two-thirds of respondents feel more hopeful about the future after their On the Table conversation.
  • 94% of respondents report that they are likely to take action as a result.

Not only is On the Table an opportunity for community members to come together and share ideas, it is an excellent opportunity for you to engage your clients in a new and meaningful way.

It does not have to be intricate or fancy: a simple shared breakfast or afternoon tea works perfectly well. The heart of the experience is people coming together to share ideas and talk about ways to make Chicago a better place to live and work for all residents.

If you are interested in hosting an On the Table for your clients, but are not sure where to begin, here are some suggestions:

1. Identify clients who are philanthropic or civically engaged and invite them to join you. As the 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy identified, only 5.3 percent of high net worth individuals were approached by an advisor to discuss philanthropy in 2015. This is your opportunity to open the door to that conversation.

2. Choose a theme for the discussion to help guide your conversation. Prior On the Table forums have included discussions hosted by law firms, accounting firms, financial institutions and family offices on a variety of topics, including:

  • Increasing diversity amongst the Boards of Directors for Chicago nonprofits
  • Improving education and creating opportunities for youth development
  • Promoting philanthropy and volunteerism in Chicago
  • Providing services to LGBTQ youth and older populations

3. Check out the On the Table website for more information and resources, like a host toolkit to help you on your way to hosting an amazing discussion.

On the Table is a fantastic opportunity to engage with your clients, show your commitment to Chicago and join in on a citywide conversation. For more information about hosting, please check out