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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

DAFs: Power of Giving

By Cole Bruner, President of Buska Wealth Management

The Power and Promise of Donor Advised Funds

In the realm of philanthropy, donor advised funds (DAFs) have emerged as a powerful tool for individuals and families seeking to make a positive impact on their communities and the world at large. With their flexibility, tax advantages, and potential for strategic giving, DAFs offer donors a unique way to manage their charitable contributions and support causes they care about.

What Are Donor Advised Funds?

Donor advised funds are charitable giving accounts administered by public charities or financial institutions. Donors contribute assets—such as cash, securities, or real estate—to the fund, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend grants to their favorite charitable organizations over time. While donors retain advisory privileges over the distribution of funds, the sponsoring organization legally controls the assets and ensures they are used for charitable purposes.

Benefits of Donor Advised Funds

One of the primary benefits of DAFs is their simplicity and efficiency. By consolidating charitable giving into a single account, donors can streamline the process of managing their philanthropy, reducing administrative burdens and paperwork. Additionally, DAFs offer donors the flexibility to contribute a wide range of assets, including appreciated securities and non-cash assets, which can result in significant tax savings.

Moreover, DAFs provide donors with the opportunity to engage in strategic philanthropy. By taking a long-term view of their giving, donors can use DAFs to support causes that align with their values and make a meaningful impact over time. DAFs also enable donors to involve their families in philanthropic decision-making, fostering a spirit of generosity and shared purpose across generations.

Impact and Criticisms

Despite their growing popularity, DAFs have faced criticism from some quarters. Critics argue that DAFs allow donors to receive an immediate tax benefit for contributions without necessarily directing those funds to charitable causes in a timely manner. They also point to the lack of transparency and accountability in some DAF programs, where donors may have little oversight or control over how their contributions are ultimately distributed.

However, proponents of DAFs counter that these criticisms overlook the significant positive impact that DAFs can have on charitable giving. By providing donors with a flexible and efficient way to support charitable causes, DAFs have the potential to mobilize resources and address pressing social challenges. Moreover, many DAF sponsors have implemented policies and practices to ensure transparency and accountability, such as requiring minimum annual distributions and providing regular reports on grantmaking activities.

Looking Ahead

As philanthropy continues to evolve, donor advised funds are likely to play an increasingly important role in shaping the landscape of charitable giving. By empowering donors to leverage their resources for maximum impact and supporting a wide range of charitable organizations and initiatives, DAFs hold the promise of creating positive change in communities around the world.

In conclusion, donor advised funds offer a powerful and flexible vehicle for individuals and families to engage in strategic philanthropy and support causes they care about. While they are not without their challenges, the potential of DAFs to mobilize resources, drive innovation, and address pressing social issues makes them a valuable tool in the philanthropic toolbox. As we look to the future, DAFs are poised to continue making a meaningful difference in the world of charitable giving.

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