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So Your Clients Want a Private Foundation

This article is part of the Professional Advisor Insights series.


“How much money is necessary to make it economical to set up my own foundation?”

This is often the first question the advisor gets from a client considering significant philanthropy through his or her own entity. I can guarantee it won’t be the last.

But this first question is the absolutely worst first question to ask.

Clients who have created wealth through their lifetime work, especially those with successful businesses who have been involved in philanthropic endeavors as donors or volunteers, often consider how they can control their philanthropy. Carrying out their own personal views on philanthropy and causes they espouse are strong motivators.

The Advisor’s Role

The role of the advisor in getting to an answer that works for the client is to ignore this question at the outset and ask critically important questions that will lead to creating a successful foundation or one that will be a burden, fail in its operations, and terminate.

There are many advantages to a private foundation, especially family control that can last for generations. The emotional rewards of making grants that impact the lives of others are almost tangible. The control over investments and the ability to make grants directly to individuals, if such program is approved for exemption, can be very gratifying.

But are there other ways to achieve similar results?

The Donor Advised Fund

Simplicity is the key word with donor advised funds.

If the client does not want to bear the burdens and cost of creating a private foundation, the advisor should insist that he or she look into the possibility of creating a donor advised fund; it may completely meet the needs and philanthropic desires of the client.

The San Diego Foundation offers advisors and their clients many options with donor advised funds from anonymity to full recognition and terms to meet the donor’s needs.

Learn More About Donor Advised Funds


About Lynda Sands, JD, MBA

Lynda SandsLynda Sands, JD, MBA, has advised nonprofits, families and businesses in high-net worth philanthropic planning and the creation of private foundations and new public charities for 40 years. As attorney, advisor, lecturer and author, she has trained tens of thousands of financial advisors across the country and several generations of major and planned gift officers.

Learn More About Professional Advisor Insights

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