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10 Benefits of Giving through a Donor Advised Fund

Donor Advised Funds are enormously popular charitable giving vehicles—known for their ease and flexibility. Through a Donor Advised Fund, individuals can make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants from the fund over time. Many donors have established Donor Advised Funds at The Columbus Foundation to streamline their giving and maximize their impact.

There are many benefits to establishing a Donor Advised Fund:

  1. Simplified tax season: If you regularly give to multiple nonprofits—your alma mater, house of worship, or other favorite charities—you might benefit from streamlining your giving through a Donor Advised Fund. By using a Donor Advised Fund, you’re able to make one gift into your Fund and have just one tax receipt come tax time. You can then use your Donor Advised Fund to grant to any 501(c)(3) public charity operating anywhere in the world. No more boxes full of receipts come tax season—just one tax receipt for the gift into the Donor Advised Fund.
  2. Charitable dollars can be invested and grown: You can contribute to your fund when it is financially advantageous, choose how your fund is invested, then leverage invested assets to sustain giving over time—and your fund’s investment growth is completely tax-free. The Foundation has approximately 30 different approved investment agents that donors can use. Each of these investment agents offers great service and low fees, and the Foundation’s finance committee reviews agents annually by to make sure they are meeting the standards of the indices.
  3. Streamlined giving: By centralizing your charitable giving, you can manage all of your giving from one convenient account. Our secure, online fund management tool enables donors to recommend grants to their favorite nonprofits, access statements, and review gift and grant histories 24/7. You can focus on giving, while we handle the administrative tasks of philanthropy—investment of the fund assets, processing of gifts and grants, provision of financial reports, and tax reporting for the fund. 
  4. Ability to donate complex assets: You can contribute to your fund using a broad range of assets, including cash, publicly-traded securities, mutual funds, real estate, and business interests—and our experts can ensure you receive the maximum tax deduction for your donations. Some nonprofits don’t have the capacity to accept complex assets, but they’ll have no trouble accepting grants from your fund.
  5. Maximized community impact: The Foundation can help you design a giving strategy that creates a meaningful impact. Our team of community experts can help you assess community investment opportunities and connect with the people, causes, and needs that align with your charitable interests. 
  6. Avoided capital gains tax: There are tax advantages to donating appreciated stock or property to your account. You incur no capital gains tax on gifts of appreciated assets to a Donor Advised Fund.
  7. Taking advantage of bundling: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction to $24,000 for a married couple and $12,000 for a single person. As a result, many taxpayers who used to itemize are now taking the standard deduction. If you’re on the cusp between itemizing and taking the standard deduction, you can enjoy the best of both worlds by condensing several years’ giving into a select year and itemizing to gain the maximum tax benefit, then taking the standard deduction during other years. This technique is known as “bundling.” Donor Advised Funds make it possible for you to bundle giving one year for a charitable tax deduction, and then suggest grants out of that fund gradually over time, so you can continue to provide ongoing support to your favorite charities while taking full advantage of your charitable deduction.
  8. Low cost: Since the Foundation works on a large scale of investments, we are able to pass on those savings to our donors. Additionally, by working with the Foundation, you have access to services, events, and community expertise that are not available through commercial gift funds.
  9. Ability to engage your family in philanthropy: Donor Advised Funds are a great tool for individuals who want to involve family in charitable giving. Children or grandchildren can participate in grantmaking by serving as Fund Advisors. Family members can also be named Successor Advisors to your fund so the next generation can carry on your charitable legacy. Additionally, Donor Advised Funds are not subject to estate taxes.
  10. Easy to establish: Setting up your Donor Advised Fund is quick and simple. Connect with one of our experts or request a meeting with your legal or financial advisor to get started.

The Columbus Foundation offers Donor Advised Funds for individuals at every stage of their charitable giving journey—whether you’re just getting started in philanthropy, are looking to expand your giving, or have a client in mind who would find this giving vehicle of interest.

As always, we are here to help your giving remain effective and easy. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of establishing a Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation.

About The Columbus Foundation

The Columbus Foundation serves nearly 3,000 individuals, families, and businesses that have created unique funds and planned gifts to make a difference in the lives of others through the most effective philanthropy possible. The Columbus Foundation is Your Trusted Philanthropic Advisor® and is one of the top ten largest community foundations in the country.

Nov 19, 2019



Angela G. Parsons, JD, CAP®, Vice President – Donor Services