Solutions

I’m not a millionaire: Why do I need a donor-advised fund?

I love gadgets, specifically kitchen gadgets. I love finding the perfect tool for the right job. I like Martha Stewart because she’s legendary for producing a gadget for every conceivable need, and she’s pretty good at it.

By Mike O’Neill

I’m not a millionaire like Martha, but I like having the tools I need for the job. One tool I won’t give up is one I use for my giving – my donor-advised-fund (DAF). It makes generosity easier … and more rewarding. It’s the perfect tool for my giving. It works for millionaires, yes, but it works for my giving too.

So, what is a DAF? 

A DAF is an account used by an individual, family, or business to manage charitable giving. Just as a savings account manages one’s savings, or a checking account manages day-to-day bills, a DAF enables givers to manage their charitable giving.

And you don’t need to be a millionaire to consider it the perfect tool.

Recently, a medical professional called me because she wanted to support a charitable project anonymously, but she was clearly hesitant. After a moment or two there it was, “you know, I’m not a millionaire, is this even right for me?”  The answer was “yes!” Having a DAF enabled her to fund a project, her church, two missionaries, and several Christian charities she loves.

What convinced her? 

The benefits:

  • Manage all your giving from one account on a smartphone or other device and track when, how much, and who you’ve granted to. Imagine needing only one tax receipt at tax time! 
  • Unspent balances can be invested in one of our investment pools, so the DAF has the potential to grow in value.
  • Grants can be made anonymously.
  • Setting up recurring gifts to your church and favorite charities, and even building up a balance for special or emergency appeals is easy.
  • You have the ability to be more strategic in the area of generosity.
  • You can set aside funds from a bonus or one-time event – such as a home sale – that allows you time to prayerfully consider what you should support.

Uses:

  • Support virtually any approved charity (Read our Guide to NCF’s Giving Solutions for more information about recommending grants to charities.)
  • Introduce others to the joy of biblical generosity

Funding:

This is where a DAF really shines. There are so many ways to fund a DAF you may be surprised:

  • Regular monthly income
  • Annual bonus
  • Inheritance
  • Stocks and securities
  • Real estate
  • The list does go on, but some people start to glaze over at private equity, hedge funds, sale of a business, or intellectual property, mineral rights, crops, life insurance, etc.

The gift of giving

Perhaps you’ve been considering a DAF for some time? Or have hesitated recommending yours to a friend, child, or family member who may think a DAF is only for the rich? Might they benefit from “the perfect tool” to manage and grow their generosity?  Something that helps making giving fun again, and not an administrative chore? A tool that allows them to manage their current, future and emergency giving all from a smartphone?

Maybe it’s time to explore a DAF or share with someone you know about how yours helps you give.

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