Why and How to Roll Over Your Donor-Advised Fund

What do National Review Institute, Project Veritas, Family Research Council, Turning Point USA, Illinois Policy Institute, and the National Rifle Association Foundation all have in common?

National donor-advised fund providers have all stalled grant requests to these non-profit organizations.

The donors requesting these grants faced a variety of reasons for the rejection.

  • National Review Institute and Illinois Policy Institute were falsely labeled as political organizations.
  • Project Veritas, it was claimed, had run afoul of the IRS, though it hadn’t.
  • The Family Research Council holds a place on the notorious “hate listt” of Southern Poverty Law Center for its faith-based views.
  • A national DAF provider quietly stopped gifts to National Rifle Association’s non-profit arm during a time the broader NRA was under investigation.
  • Fidelity Charitable slow-walked grant requests to Alliance Defending Freedom, Center for Security Policy and Pacific Justice Institute, reports the Daily Caller

In most – but not all – of these cases, the providers eventually made the gifts. For the donors, however, the experience left a bad taste in their mouths. Rather than stick with a provider that didn’t share their principles, these donors looked for an option aligned with their small-government, freedom-celebrating values. They found DonorsTrust.

Their Right — and Yours

It’s important to note that it’s within a donor-advised fund provider’s right to decline a gift. Once a gift is made into a DAF account, it is an irrevocable contribution to the fund provider. The donor retains advisory privileges (thus the “donor-advised” part of the name) as to where grants are given from their named fund.

Most national funds allow giving to any 501(c)(3) public charity in good standing with the IRS with few if any other stated restrictions. That should mean only those organizations not legally recognized by the IRS would fail to comply.

Mission-driven funds or community foundations may place additional barriers to giving to align with its mission. At DonorsTrust, for example, we may decline a gift when an organization takes too much government money or when it works to expand government.

Donors moving their funds from other donor-advised fund providers often tell us they feel their previous provider was “playing games” with the groups they’d initially allowed to be supported. They felt their principles were out of step with the DAF provider’s – even those large, national providers that claimed to be ideologically neutral. Plus, essentially, their donor intent was being “sequestered” by these national providers.

Fortunately, with thousands of providers of DAFs out there, it’s easy for donors to move their fund away from those providers that aren’t a fit and roll over to one that more closely aligns with their philanthropic priorities.

Making the Switch

Rolling over a donor-advised fund from one provider to another is a simple process. In fact, it is no more difficult than requesting a grant to any non-profit. That’s because all DAF providers are registered 501(c)(3) public charities themselves.

If you’ve decided it’s time to consider a DAF provider that shares your principles, here’s the simple process to rollover your fund to DonorsTrust:

  • Determine the new provider to whom you wish to move your funds. If you support the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise, you’ll find yourself well aligned with DonorsTrust. (Click here to get your free donor prospectus.)
  • Open a fund with the new provider. Opening a fund is a simple process – as you already know if you have an existing DAF! (Click here to access the DonorsTrust application.)
  • Request a grant to the new provider. Follow the same process you would as if you were giving to one of your traditional grantees. DAF providers regularly make grants to each other for a whole variety or reasons. It’s quite likely your provider has made a gift to DonorsTrust before. The amount is up to you. You can open a new fund with the minimum of $10,000 or you can roll over the full balance of your existing fund if you’re ready. In the memo of the grant, put your new fund name.
  • Close your old fund. If you are completely rolling over your account, you can close your old account. Make sure to download a copy of your grant making history for your records. That can be helpful information to share with the new provider as it provides an accurate snapshot of your donor intent.

Philanthropy should be a joy. Working with a philanthropic partner that shares your principles makes giving easier for you and simply more enjoyable.

If you’ve felt the same pain and frustration so many of our new donor advisors have with your existing donor-advised fund, consider rolling over your account to a provider with a shared vision – DonorsTrust.

Request Your DonorsTrust Information Packet


  • 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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