Are you considering setting up a donor advised fund? It is a great tool for giving. You can give online. You can do all of your giving through the fund and get one tax receipt, which makes life simple. You can make a gift now, deduct now and distribute later.
However, there are lots of donor advised fund providers. Some of them are local and based right in your community. Some are commercial in nature—Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. If you are a Christian, you may want to specifically select a Christian donor advised fund provider. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Ownership. By making a gift into a donor advised fund organization, you are relinquishing ownership of your gift to the donor advised fund organization. You only keep the ability to “recommend” or “advise” where your future gifts may go. The parent organization has no obligation to gift to Christian organizations that you may want to support.
2. Boards. Because you give up ownership of your gift, you are then subject to the direction of the existing board and future boards that will be elected. Those boards will not be elected based upon their Christian values. Only the Christian donor advised fund organization will have such criteria. Accordingly, for the civic based or commercial donor advised fund organization, the board will be able to restrict grants to Christian organizations if they choose.
3. Bylaws. Be sure to check the bylaws of the underlying organization. I’ve had people set up donor advised funds in civic based community foundations only to find that their ability to carry the fund on to successive generations is limited. Some community foundations may require that the fund carry on for only one generation, or may require the fund to eventually become part of the general fund. One community foundation requires that the second generation keep a minimum of $250,000 in the fund or it becomes part of the general fund. Christian community foundations encourage multi-generational giving.
4. Causes Supported. Many civic based community foundations take up support of particular causes. Many of those causes are relatively neutral. However, progressively some community foundations are taking more aggressive support of particular causes contrary to the evangelical world—whether it be pro-life, pro-family, or basic Christian liberties. Christians must ask themselves if they want to be associated with an organization supporting those causes.
5. Administrative Fee. Every donor advised fund organization charges an administrative fee for administering the donor advised fund. That administrative fee goes to support the organization. In addition to supporting particular causes, Christian donors must also determine if their comfortable paying an administrative fee that may be supporting causes contrary to their own beliefs.
The considerations listed here go beyond what many consider when choosing a donor advised fund, but particularly for the Christian donor are essential considerations. There are many Christian donor advised fund organizations. Visit www.servantchristian.com as one example.
William F. High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Christian Community Foundation. Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.