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Donor-advised fund and/or a private foundation? New tool offers guidance

January 28, 2011

 Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for some time will recall several pieces written about donor-advised funds — an increasingly popular vehicle to help individuals, families, or other groups of people give back in a consolidated, manageable and effective way.  They’ve often been presented as an alternative to giving directly to a cause(s) or establishing a private foundation.

Working at a small foundation and volunteering for a community foundation that houses several donor-advised funds, I’ve been more and more interested to learn what sways donors to choose one route over the other.

Well, earlier this week, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, the largest donor-advised fund in the country, and the Association of Small Foundations, a membership philanthropy support organization, announced a partnership to help educate donors and financial advisors on these two giving vehicles and how they can complement each other. In their new publication “The Best of Both Worlds: Using Private Foundations and Donor-Advised Funds” we learn the features of both, how to choose the appropriate option, and also when it might make more sense to do a combination of the two. 

By the way, last week the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund reported that the amount donors put into their funds (which basically work like “charity checking accounts”) grew 42 percent over 2009 to $1.6 billion in 2010!  And donors made more than $1.2 billion in grants out of those accounts to more than 353,000 charities (that’s up 19% over the year before). This sure shows that people are still giving and giving generously as they can to causes they are passionate about. 

It’s not always easy to figure out how and where to direct our charitable dollars.  Learning more about the options to engage in philanthropy is incredibly valuable.

Take a look at the report and let us know what may have moved you.

More info:

Check out Paul Sullivan’s latest post Weighing the Best Vehicles For Philanthropic Giving in the New York Times Wealth Matters column for more on this topic…

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