Donor-Advised Funds

Issue

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a unique philanthropic tool that allow donors to establish charitable accounts at institutions, such as community foundations, and remain involved in supporting the issues and causes they care about. A DAF allows the donor to remain involved and active in charitable giving by retaining “advisory privileges” to recommend how the sponsoring organization should make grants from that fund. All funds distributed from DAFs must be used for qualified, charitable purposes.

In 2021, the Council convened the Strengthening Community Philanthropy Ad Hoc Working Group to develop a set of principles and proposals to share with lawmakers and the field that would strengthen community foundations and DAFs. Read the recommendations.

We continue to highlight the enthusiasm of the majority of community foundations to voluntarily institute strict operating policies and preserve the highest degree of integrity and excellence by engaging in peer-regulation through the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® program.

Council’s Policy Position

The Council on Foundations supports a strong philanthropic sector that helps to achieve the greater good. The Council opposes regulations and legislation that are overly burdensome or would harm the sector’s ability to thrive.

Related Legislation

Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act (H.R.6595/S.1981)
Summary: Summary: Modifies existing rules relating to donor-advised funds (DAFs), creates an excise tax on sponsoring organizations, and makes certain changes to the rules governing private foundations.
Council Action Alert

Additional Resources

Council Written Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee

Council President and CEO Kathleen Enright’s op-ed on the power of DAFs to democratize philanthropy.

Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE Act) 

Council Response to the ACE Act

Strengthening Community Philanthropy Ad Hoc Working Group

Strengthening Community Philanthropy Ad Hoc Working Group Releases Donor-Advised Funds Recommendations

Strengthening Community Philanthropy Ad Hoc Working Group Final Recommendations

Legal Background: Charitable Purpose of Donor Advised Funds

Council Summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Public Law 115-97)

Treasury Report (2011) on Donor-Advised Funds and Supporting Organizations