Donor-advised funds: A resource and a comfort

By Mike O’Neill

Last week I was invited to participate in a live broadcast for Women Doing Well. It was clearly a moment that required selecting something from the “dry cleaning” closet. Well, at least from the waist up!

As I began to prepare for my day, I noticed the Women Doing Well invitation clearly stated that no one would be viewable, so we could come as we were. I chuckled. It actually felt good to be wearing a dress shirt again … and it felt even better paired with a comfortable pair of sweatpants.

I’m not sure about you, but isolation has been really long, and I have grown very attached to my most comfortable clothes. In times of stress and anxiety, we tend to revert to the comfortable, don’t we? To the familiar. 

For some, it might be comfort food – a decadent grilled cheese sandwich. For the college student, or young professional, it may be settling back into a childhood bedroom in the family home for a while. For others, it’s a donor-advised fund.

A donor-advised fund?

Ok … I’m the first to admit I have been isolated for far too long! I’m even starting to call into question a lifetime of testing as an introvert. But I’m serious about a donor-advised fund (NCF Giving Fund, or DAF) as a source of comfort, and I was inspired to this by Janice Worth – a woman I know to be generous who spoke on that Women Doing Well call.

Janice is a highly successful entrepreneur and a passionate advocate for generosity. She shared how the pandemic had impacted her … and her investments. 

Janice was frightened when she saw a large drop in her net worth. And, she says, the crisis brought back some old fears. “It exposed how my heart was still tied to my zeroes … which, by the way, were diminishing rapidly.” Her initial response was to pause her giving.

But Philippians 4:9 came to mind, she says:  “My God will supply every need … according to his riches.

“When I went to my DAF, I saw that I had more than enough to fulfill my commitments to the ministries I support, because the resources were already there,” Janice says. She contacted a ministry she gives to monthly and asked about their needs, then she sent them a full year’s worth of contributions. She had planned another gift to a New York ministry for late in 2020. She was able to release it immediately.

Janice’s Giving Fund had allowed her to donate appreciated stocks in 2019, when the market was hitting new highs every day. So when she signed in to look at it during the crisis, what she hoped and planned to give was already there.

“Our God was being praised and thanked because of funds that were set aside,” Janice says. But she had planned her gifts.

“Planning can sound so rigid and structured,” she says; and Janice isn’t rigid and structured. But in this case, that planning helped her to continue the generosity that brings her joy and to bless ministries in need too.

Despite a moment of concern, Janice had returned to what has become familiar for her, and allowed the passionate giver in her to take the lead.

You can see the recording of that Women Doing Well broadcast here.

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