January 1, 2015
What is a Donor-Advised Fund?
A Donor-Advised Fund is a charitable giving vehicle administered by a public charity. It is created for the purpose of managing charitable donations on behalf of an organization, family or individual. A donor-advised fund offers the opportunity to create an easy-to-establish, low cost, flexible vehicle for charitable giving as an alternative to direct giving or creating a private foundation.
Donors enjoy administrative convenience, cost savings and tax advantages by conducting their grant making through a donor-advised fund. Over the past two decades, donor-advised funds have become more and more popular. They have become the fastest-growing vehicle for family philanthropy, outnumbering private foundations two to one.¹
Simplify Your Giving Strategy
Establishing and administering a private foundation can be costly and is regulated by complex rules set by the Internal Revenue Service. A private foundation must file an annual tax return, distribute a certain percentage of assets each year and even pay an excise tax. With a donor-advised fund, a qualified public charity maintains compliance of IRS regulations. In addition, the donors who establish the donor-advised fund have no required tax reporting, no annual grant requirements and pay no excise taxes. Not only does a donor-advised fund simplify your giving strategy, but is a cost-effective alternative to creating a private foundation.
Immediate Tax Deduction
When donors contribute assets to a donor-advised fund they can claim an immediate tax deduction in the year of the contribution. In addition, they can contribute appreciated assets and thereby avoid capital gains when these assets are sold.
Grants from a donor-advised fund may be made anonymously. Grants from a foundation, by law, must be reported publicly. In fact, private foundations’ IRS filings are a matter of public record, which may disclose total assets, gifts, grants and even the names and addresses of trustees, directors and officers.
¹ Source: Worth Magazine, Volume 22, Edition 01, article titled, “What are the benefits of having a donor-advised fund if I already have a private foundation”.