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Donor-Advised Funds Explained

A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a philanthropic giving vehicle that allows individuals, families, and organizations to make charitable contributions, receive immediate tax benefits, and recommend how those funds should be distributed to nonprofit organizations over time. Here’s how a donor-advised fund typically works.

  1. Initial Donation: The donor opens a DAF account with a sponsoring organization, which is often a community foundation, a financial institution, or a charitable organization. They make an initial
    irrevocable contribution to the fund. This contribution is typically tax-deductible in the year it’s made.
  2. Immediate Tax Deduction: Donors receive an immediate tax deduction for their contribution to the DAF, even though the funds may not be distributed to specific charities right away.
  3. Recommendation of Grants: Donors can then recommend grants from their DAF to eligible 501(c)(3) public charities. The sponsoring organization typically has a minimum grant amount and a list of eligible charities to ensure compliance with IRS regulations.
  4. Investment and Growth: While the funds are in the DAF, they can be invested and have the potential to grow over time. The donor can often choose from a range of investment options, allowing the assets in the fund to potentially increase in value.
  5. Flexible Timing: Donors have the flexibility to decide when, and to which charities, they want to make grants. They can make recommendations for grants immediately after contributing to the fund or over an extended period. This allows for strategic and thoughtful charitable giving.
  6. Anonymity: Some DAF sponsors allow donors to remain anonymous when making grants, providing a level of privacy for those who prefer it.
  7. Professional Management: The sponsoring organization manages the DAF account, ensures compliance with tax laws, and performs due diligence on recommended grants to verify that the recipients are legitimate charities.
  8. Minimum Distributions: IRS regulations require that DAFs distribute a minimum percentage of their assets to eligible charities each year. The specific percentage varies depending on the sponsoring organization and the size of the DAF.

Donor-advised funds offer several advantages:

  • Tax Benefits: Donors receive an immediate tax deduction when they contribute to a DAF, potentially lowering their taxable income in the year of the contribution.
  • Simplicity: DAFs are easy to set up and manage, reducing administrative burdens for donors.
  • Flexibility: Donors can take their time to decide which charities to support, allowing for strategic giving.
  • Investment Opportunities: Funds in a DAF can be invested, potentially increasing the overall amount available for charitable giving.

However, there are also some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Irrevocable: Contributions to a DAF are irrevocable. Once the money is in the fund, it must be used for charitable purposes.
  • Administrative Fees: Sponsoring organizations typically charge administrative fees for managing DAF accounts.
  • Minimum Distributions: There are requirements to distribute a certain percentage of DAF assets each year to maintain their tax-advantaged status.

Overall, DAFs can be a great way to make charitable donations. They offer many benefits, including immediate tax deductions, flexibility, professional management, and low fees.

Here are some additional things to consider when deciding whether to open a donor-advised fund:

  • Your charitable goals: What are your charitable priorities? Do you want to support a specific cause or organization? Or do you want to have more flexibility in your giving?
  • Your financial situation: How much can you afford to contribute to a DAF? Keep in mind that you will need to pay annual fees and administrative costs.
  • Your time commitment: How much time do you want to spend managing your charitable giving? DAFs offer a hands-off approach, but you will need to make decisions about which charities to support and how much to give.

In summary, a donor-advised fund is a popular and flexible way for individuals and organizations to engage in charitable giving while enjoying immediate tax benefits and the ability to strategically support the causes and charities they care about over time.

If you would like to learn more about donor-advised funds, please contact us at Hapanowicz & Associates, and we’ll be happy to help you determine if this is a good vehicle for fulfilling your philanthropic desires.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or
recommendations for any individual.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking investment advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.

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Engage with a qualified partner for financial guidance built on loyalty, empathy, and integrity.