DAFs Are a Swiss Army Knife of Giving Tools

One thing my family and I truly miss since moving out of the city and out to the country is Target. Yes, the big-box wonderstore with all the tools and treasures I need in a pinch.

Target solved so many problems at once!

Need a toy for a present, a light bulb for the kitchen, some hand soap, and the broccoli you forgot to buy at the grocery store? Check, check, check, and check. One stop and so many problems solved.

Our modern world is full of these multi-value tools. Take that phone in your pocket. When the iPhone came out, I at first pushed against the trend. My flip phone was fine!

Then I saw an ad for the iPhone that showed how all the things I use each day – a digital camera, music player, web search, and of course a phone – could combine into one device in my pocket.


“A DAF Can Do That, Too?!”

Can you go to Target just to buy a TV, or only use your iPhone as a phone? Sure, it’s possible. but that misses out on the huge variety of benefits.

A single-use approach, however, is too often how people approach a donor-advised fund.

This myopic approach is understandable. Have a tax issue and want to mitigate it by funding a DAF account? That’s a terrific solution, and it solves your immediate problem.

Likewise if you desire a way to give anonymously to your favorite causes. A DAF makes that possible.

One of the best parts of my job is connecting a donor’s immediate issue with the solutions offered by a DAF account. The greatest joy, however, comes when I see that light bulb go off during the conversation as we talk about the other things a fund can do for the donor.

Just like how my family went to Target to buy new shorts for my daughter and, while there, I remembered that I could solve my problem of needing a new water bottle at the same time, a DAF has features that can help fix things that weren’t front-of-mind when you started.

Opening the Knife

Here’s another analogy for thinking about a donor-advised fund account: a Swiss Army knife for your charitable giving. You know the basics of how a DAF works (if not, here’s a 60-second video to walk you through it). Have you opened up each blade of the DAF knife? Explored each app, each aisle?

Let’s pull open a few of those options. Here are a few real situations where a DonorsTrust donor-advised fund has proven to be helpful to donors. Do some of these resonate with you?

  • A father opened a fund – specifically, one of our Novus Society accounts made for donors under age 40 – for his son to help him build his charitable muscles and learn the habit of giving.
  • A couple sold their closely-held business and turned to a donor-advised fund as a way to both reduce the tax hit and create a pool of giving resources for years to come.
  • A donor has a few smaller organizations he wanted to support with highly appreciated stock, but several of those groups weren’t built to accept such gifts. Opening a fund gave him a way to give the appreciated stock, eliminate the capital gain and thus have more to give, and get his gifts to these groups.
  • A woman wanted to rethink her giving strategy after her husband’s death, and also look for advice on who is doing good work in the pro-liberty arena, so turned to DonorsTrust.
  • A couple with two great kids who don’t share their conservative values in the least bit, and as they update the will, they opened a fund to house charitable assets when they pass. They have a plan for their giving, but they needed a partner with the same principles to see it through.
  • A quiet donor who gives generously to Christian causes, but strongly prefers to do so in a way that masks the donor’s identity, strongly believing it’s about the work, not the accolades.

All these donors enjoy the simplicity of the donor-advised fund, and they like the tax savings. They appreciate DonorsTrust’s principles and our commitment to protecting those values. Sometime they even like the option to give a gift anonymously. Any one of these reasons might be the first reason for seeking out a fund. Once the fund is up and running, though, all those other benefits get thrown in for free.

As you explore a donor-advised fund, know what brought you in, but also wander the aisles a bit. You’ll certainly find a few other items to throw in your proverbial cart to make the fund worthwhile.

Open a Giving Account

Interested in supercharging your giving? Consider opening a giving account with DonorsTrust. Giving accounts empower philanthropists to donate their hard-earned dollars in a smart, secure, tax-advantaged way. Request an info packet below and discover how a giving account with DonorsTrust could streamline your giving.


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  • 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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