Donor-Advised Funds

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If your donor-advised fund is held by Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, or BNY Mellon, DAF Direct streamlines the process for you. Click here to make your gift through DAF Direct.

If your donor-advised fund is held elsewhere, simply contact that institution to get the process started.

Of course, we’re always happy to answer any questions you might have, so please contact our Development and Communications Office if we can help. (616.459.4681)

Typically, any gift through a donor-advised fund is permitted by the IRS, with a couple of exceptions. A donor cannot receive something (such as a meal at a fundraising luncheon) in exchange for the gift. (However, a donor can pay for the cost of the meal or item separately, and then make a gift through their donor-advised fund.) Additionally, some gifts from donor-advised funds cannot be used to satisfy a donor’s outstanding obligation or pledge to the recipient charity. The institution that holds your DAF may have other guidelines too.

Want to Know More?

Information via DAF Direct

What is a donor-advised fund?
A donor-advised fund (DAF) is a type of giving program that allows you to combine the most favorable
tax benefits with the flexibility to easily support your favorite charities. An increasingly popular
charitable vehicle, DAFs are an excellent way to both simplify your charitable giving and facilitate your
strategic philanthropic goals.

How does it work?
• Establish your DAF by making an irrevocable, tax-deductible donation to an institution (ex: community foundation, Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, BNY Mellon, etc.) that sponsors a DAF program
• Advise the investment allocation of the donated assets (any investment growth is tax-free)
• Recommend grants to qualified public charities of your choice

What are the main advantages of a donor-advised fund?
Simplicity – The DAF sponsor handles all record-keeping, disbursements, and tax receipts.
Flexibility – Timing of your tax deduction can be separate from your charitable decision making.
Tax-efficiency – Contributions are tax-deductible and any investment growth in the DAF is tax-free. It is also easy to donate long term appreciated securities, eliminating capital gains taxes and allowing you to support multiple charities from one block of stock.
Family legacy – A DAF is a powerful way to build or continue a tradition of family philanthropy.
No start-up costs. – There is no cost to establish a donor-advised fund. However, there are often minimum initial charitable contributions to establish the DAF (typically $5,000 or more).**
No transaction fees. – Once approved, 100% of your recommended grant goes to your qualified public charity of choice.**
Privacy, if desired. – Donors may choose to remain anonymous to the grant recipient.

What is the process to start giving through a donor-advised fund?
1) An individual or entity makes an irrevocable contribution to a sponsoring institution (ex: community foundation, Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, BNY Mellon, etc.) to establish a donor-advised fund. This person becomes a donor-advisor.
2) The sponsoring institution allocates the charitable contribution to the particular donor-advisor’s DAF. The donor-advisor has the opportunity to name the DAF (ex: The John Doe Fund).
3) The donor-advisor retains advisory privileges over the investment allocation for the DAF. Since the assets in the DAF belong to the sponsoring institution, any investment growth is tax free. The investment options available vary by sponsoring institution.
4) The donor-advisor has advisory privileges over the disbursements made from the DAF. The disbursements are recommended by the donor-advisor, but must meet the grant making criteria of the sponsoring institution. Typically, disbursements may only be recommended to IRS-qualified public charities exclusively for charitable purposes. Additionally, the donor may not receive any more than incidental benefits as a result of the disbursement.
5) Once the sponsoring institution approves the recommended disbursement, the grant is made to the qualified charitable organization.

** Sponsoring institutions generally assess an administrative fee on the assets in a DAF. These fees vary.