Tell me if you’ve heard this from your retired clients before: “Can I donate directly from my IRA to charity?”

For retirement-age individuals and couples – the answer is usually yes.

Clients over age 70 ½ can donate up to $100,000 directly from a taxable IRA to a 501(c)(3) charity instead of taking that amount as required minimum distribution (RMD) income, offsetting negative impacts on income taxes and Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Because the assets go directly to charity, clients don’t need to report this donation, called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), as taxable income and don’t owe any taxes on it, which also results in a larger gift to charity. It’s a win-win strategy.

A QCD is a suitable giving strategy for clients who:

  • Are required to take an RMD from an IRA, but don’t need the funds
  • Are charitably-minded
  • Have fewer itemized deductions, including their potential IRA RMD gift, than the standard deduction, so that they wouldn’t be able to deduct the RMD gift
  • Would like to reduce the balance in an IRA to lower future RMDs
  • Would like to make a larger tax-deductible charitable gift than they could if they simply donated cash or other assets

How to Give a QCD

QCDs are made directly to the eligible charity from a traditional IRA, inherited IRA, inactive Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan and inactive Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs.

The money is a direct transfer that never passes through the hands of your client.

Instead, the IRA custodian can either send a check directly to the charity or the account owner, who then hands it over to the charity.

For a QCD to count toward your minimum annual IRA distribution, it must be made by the same deadline as a normal distribution, which is usually December 31 of the tax year in question.

Donating QCDs to a Community Foundation

Student in classroom

Although QCDs cannot be gifted to donor-advised funds, many community foundations, such as San Diego Foundation (SDF), offer clients an opportunity to make a QCD in support of their charitable interests through initiatives established at the foundation.

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.

Community foundations provide a staff of community experts and grantmaking best practices. These experts have deep roots in the community and can help philanthropists identify emerging needs and maximize impact.

Donating QCDs to a community foundation is a great strategy for clients seeking to give to a trusted institution to support a local cause aligned with their interests. Giving experts can help educate clients about critical needs in their local region and ways clients can make the largest impact with their gifts.

At SDF, we encourage clients eligible to give QCDs to consider supporting our strategic initiatives aligned with their giving interests, including the following funds:

Advancing Racial & Social Justice Fund

Supports community-led efforts to increase racial equity by providing equitable access to education, promoting homeownership in vulnerable communities, encouraging entrepreneurship, and mitigating discriminatory practices in philanthropy

Climate & Environment Fund

Reduces our region’s polluting emissions, protects biodiversity, minimizes local risks from climate change, and builds equitable climate resilience

College Access & Success Fund

Enables more children from underserved communities to have the support and resources they need to prepare for, access, and persevere through college

Early Childhood Fund

Provides all children and their families access to the early care, education and resources they need to flourish. Addresses Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), supports early childcare providers, and increases access to care

Food Insecurity Fund

Promotes food security and equitable access to food for all San Diegans

Healthy Children & Families Fund

Provides equitable access to programs and services that support the mental, behavioral and physical health and well-being of San Diego children and their families

Outdoor Access Fund

Brings the benefits of outdoor experiences to children and families in underserved communities and develops our region’s next generation of environmental stewards

Workforce Development Fund

Supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and other programming related to youth and workforce development

Alternatively, clients can donate QCDs to our Strategic Initiatives Fund to supporting the pillars of our Strategic Plan adopted in 2021: Advancing racial and social justice; Fostering equity of opportunity; Building resilient communities throughout San Diego County.

Learn More about Giving QCDs

At SDF, we guide you and your clients through the QCD giving process.

For nearly 50 years, we have partnered with an extensive network of wealth advisors, estate planning attorneys, tax planners and other advisors to help high-net-worth clients and families achieve financial planning objectives and charitable giving goals, while maximizing tax deductions.

Interested in learning more about QCDs? Contact me at (858) 245-1508 or

Learn More about QCDs