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 we hope 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 punting 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.

Donor-advised funds simplify this process.  Really.

  • You open the fund with a basic four-page application (or, even easier, our end-of-year one-page 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 with stock or cash.
  • If needed, make your contribution using complicated assets such as closely held stock or real estate. We will work with you to make this as simple as possible.
  • Request gifts when you are ready either by email, 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 small, 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

As a 35 year old, I’m typically at the very upper band of what is considered a Millennial.  That means that 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.

This year, I’m excited to get my own donor-advised fund at DonorsTrust.  I’ll make a couple contributions into the account, and instead of hopping website to website at the end of the year, my wife and I will make our list of organizations, turn it in, and be confident that the organizations we care about will get the support they need. 

This is the second installment in our Consider blog series. You can read the post we opened the series with, Consider Supporting Liberty with Your Charitable Dollars, that shares how private philanthropy can promote the principles of liberty. In the next post, Consider Tax Savings with a Donor-Advised Account we share some strategies for maximizing your tax savings. You can also download the full Consider booklet here that contains all four parts of the series.


  • 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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