Consider Simplified Year-End Giving

What do Millennials, busy business executives, harried parents, and retirees all have in common?

We all want new things that are straight-forward and simple to understand. You and I only have so much time in the day, and trying to figure out even exciting new things only serves to distract us from our 99 other pressing priorities.

Jumping into something like a donor-advised fund, then, might seem like just the sort of new and complex thing that’s worth pushing off for another year. Give me three minutes, though. I think you’ll find it isn’t as tricky as it might seem – and in fact could simplify your year-end giving in some pleasant ways.

Ending the Year-End Giving Rush

Do you find yourself making most of your charitable decisions at the end of the year?  My wife and I do. Sometimes that means rushing through our giving decisions much faster than we’d like in late December, when we finally focus on those good appeals from charities we ignored throughout the year.

It also means in the final two days of the year, I repeatedly am entering my credit card information into charitable websites (or handwriting checks, and I have enough Millennial in me to really hate this). It’s a hassle, and one I eliminated when we started using our fund.

Here’s the simple process for using a donor-advised funds:

  • Open the fund with a basic application.
  • Make a gift into your fund. That money is instantly tax deductible, so the “tax reasons” are taken care of. That means if you don’t have time to make thoughtful decisions for all of the dollars you’ve allocated to charity this year, you still get your deduction.
  • You can make your contribution easily cash. Another way is to use appreciated stock, which is simple enough to give and may have significant tax savings for you.
  • If needed, make your contribution using complicated assets such as closely held stock or real estate. We will work with you to get this done as efficiently as possible (though remember that such gifts take a bit more time, so plan ahead).
  • Request gifts when you are ready either by email, mail, fax, or through our online portal. Just indicate the name of the organization, how much you’d like to send, and how you would want to be recognized to the receiving organization. We’ll handle it from there.

You’ll have our knowledgeable team serving as your charitable back-office. We’ll handle the gift processing, selling of securities, and due diligence of the grantees.

Beyond that, we’re happy to discuss the strategic side of giving, helping you discover new organizations working on the issues you care about most.

Simply Test It Out

I’m at the upper end of the Millennial cohort. Per stereotypes, in addition to wanting things to be easy, I also want to be able to walk away if a service isn’t working for me. Unlike other giving vehicles, donor-advised funds allow you to jump in largely risk-free.

Let’s say you open an account and eventually decide that it’s not for you. Simply spend down the charitable dollars in your account and move on. You’ve received your charitable deduction. You’ve supported the charities you care for. No harm done.

You wouldn’t be alone in doing this. We have clients do this sort of “test drive” of an account with some frequency. Typically the trial run leads them to stick around for the long term as they experience first-hand the simplicity of giving with a donor-advised fund.

Charitable giving is a core tenet for my wife and me, and I imagine the same is true for you. The best part of giving is following along with an organization as it makes progress toward its mission, knowing I own a small piece of that success through my gift. The administrative stuff – writing checks, punching in credit card numbers, accounting for my receipts – is all stuff I’m happy to have shed.

Let the DonorsTrust team do the back-end work while you focus on the exciting part – making an impact with your philanthropy.


Read the next article in our Consider Year-End Giving series here


  • Peter Lipsett

    Peter Lipsett is vice president at DonorsTrust. He also leads DonorsTrust’s Novus Society, a network of donors under 40 committed to growing their philanthropic know-how. He has a dual degree in political science and theater from Davidson College and finally got a practical credential with an MBA from George Mason University.

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