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Donor Advised Funds: Working hard for our community

Donor-advised funds are a popular charitable giving tool. And right now is a perfect time to evaluate this planning strategy for your clients.

In recent years, donor-advised funds have been one of the fastest-growing philanthropic planning tools in the marketplace. Donor-advised funds are popular because they allow an individual or family to make a tax-deductible transfer that qualifies as a charitable contribution, and then recommend grants to favorite charities from the fund when the time is right. A donor-advised fund operates a lot like a checking account for charity, and it’s established according to IRS guidelines that provide tax advantages for the donor as well as administrative efficiencies.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, giving from donor-advised funds at community foundations is accelerating. This is creating a significant boost for nonprofits and people in need. Indeed, the global healthcare crisis is precisely the reason that many donors established donor-advised funds in the first place--to be ready to give when needs are the highest. 

According to a recent survey conducted by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative, grants from donor-advised funds among the 64 community foundations surveyed increased nearly 60% in March and April 2020 compared with March and April 2019. Donor-advised funds at the FM Area Foundation gave out more than $1.1 million in March and April of this year! Grants went to support a wide variety of needs ranging from COVID-19 vaccine research; to homeless shelters and food insecurity; arts organizations and much more.

To be sure, donor-advised funds can be an important “lifeline” for community organizations during periods of hardship, as noted by Bruce Hopkins, a University of Kansas School of Law professor. 

Consider working with your clients to activate their existing donor-advised funds or establish new donor-advised funds to help respond to the needs created by Covid-19. A donor-advised fund helps the community right now and also allows your clients and their families to build a nest egg to address our community’s needs during future crises. 

Want more information? Contact Greg Diehl at greg@areafoundation.org or call 701.234.0756.