DonorsTrust is committed to honoring donor intent and ensuring a steady stream of resources to qualified operating charities.

In other words, we encourage our donor-advisors to be active givers. We rely on them to bring potential grantees to our attention and by doing so, increase the overall pool of grantees available to every DonorsTrust donor-advisor.

DonorsTrust is the sole decision maker in approving grant requests and, as with all donor-advised fund sponsors, is not legally obligated to accept the grant advice from one of its donor-advisors. This is particularly true when such advice runs counter to the original donor-advisor’s charitable intent and when such advice violates DonorsTrust’s existing grant making guidelines.

The DonorsTrust grants committee uses the following guidelines when choosing to accept or reject the advice from a donor-advisor. We recognize that potential grantees serve different and often unique missions, but our desire is to apply these evenly to each grantee.

  1. The operating charity must be organized as a 501(c)3 public charity in good standing with the IRS. This includes being up to date and transparent with its annual 990 filings with the IRS.
  2. The operating charity must be primarily reliant upon private (non-government) gifts for its operations. Generally speaking, the grants committee prefers operating charities with less than
    25% of its annual revenue from government sources (federal, state and/or local).
  3. The operating charity must pursue and accomplish its mission without advocating for an expansion in the scope and/or scale of government services and/or burdens at all levels.
  4. The operating charity must conduct programs that are consistent with the principles of a free society: for example, limited public institutions, free enterprise (i.e. capitalism), equal access under the law, non-violence (direct and indirect i.e. via takings of property and/or exclusion via race or ethnicity that runs counter to equal access or free-enterprise principles), personal responsibility, entrepreneurship, and voluntary actions to address problems. Operating charities that are hostile to and/or operate counter to these principles would likely be rejected by the grants committee as DonorsTrust grant recipients.


  • 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.