Donor Advised Funds

Donor advised funds have been a part of the federal tax law of charity for nearly a century as a unique philanthropic tool. Because of the relatively small amount needed to start a DAF compared to assets needed to create a private foundation, DAFs serve as an opportunity for middle class Americans to pursue their philanthropy and to gain the benefit of the foundations’ expertise and experience in helping to guide their giving. Use these resources to learn more and gain valuable insight into managing and administering Donor Advised Funds.

These are a few examples of DAFs that are sparking tremendous change in their communities:

In-Depth knowledge on Donor Advised Funds

This booklet focuses on how donor-advised funds at community foundations strengthen and improve American communities. These funds are also versatile tools that other charitable organizations effectively employ to provide support to communities with shared interests in the arts, education, health, religion, and social services both inside and outside the United States.

Gifts from private foundations to field of interest funds, designated funds, and other funds that are not donor advised, are entirely permissible and do not raise special concerns. Gifts to a donor-advised fund can raise red flags as a potential donor control issue.

The Council on Foundations, in conjunction with the Community Foundations Leadership Team, conducted a web-based survey of community foundations in late June through August 2008. The survey aimed to obtain comprehensive information on: the amount of assets held in donor advised funds; the range of sizes of individual donor advised funds; the amount spent from these funds; and the areas these funds supported in 2007. This report presents a detailed look at the donor advised funds held in 2007 by 137 community foundations that answered the survey. Together, the responding organizations hold half of all community foundation assets.