San Diegans are among the most generous in the nation, according to Charity Navigator’s America’s Most Charitable Cities rankings.

Local families such as the Fleets and Fletchers, who have been giving for multiple generations, certainly are notable examples of this accolade.

In the 1980s, the two families converted private family foundations into donor-advised funds (DAFs) at San Diego Foundation. Today, both families have been generating significant, positive impacts in the region through philanthropy.

Private Foundations vs. DAFs

When new to philanthropy, families with considerable wealth often consider creating a private foundation, particularly where charitable assets exceed $1 million.

Private foundations offer opportunities for family members to serve as employees or board members. Perceived benefits can also include complete control over the investment of assets and grantmaking decisions.

Besides a required 5% distribution of assets each year, private foundations also require annual filings with the IRS, and other reporting. Meanwhile, charitable deductions are limited to 30% of adjusted gross income for cash.

DAFs, on the other hand, are vehicles associated with a charitable institution such as a community foundation or commercial bank.

Individuals, families and organizations establish funds with charitable assets that are invested together to maximize financial return.

Benefits of DAFs include anonymity, minimal administrative effort and ease of grantmaking. Donor-advised funds at community foundations also benefit from access to regional knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector.

The Joy of Giving Back

The Fleet and Fletcher private family foundations already had multiple generations of advisors when they explored donor-advised funds at SDF. Increased ease of disbursing grants and streamlining operations were essential to the families.

According to Lori Fleet, great-granddaughter of Reuben H. Fleet, converting the Fleet Family Foundation to a donor-advised fund enabled the family to enjoy the experience of giving back instead of bearing the administrative burden of managing a foundation.

“With support from San Diego Foundation, we get to focus on the joy of giving together as a family,” said Lori. She added that family members appreciate how SDF conducts due diligence to ensure grants are distributed to qualified, eligible nonprofits. Lori also shared that donor research and facilitating site visits are important advantages of working with SDF.

Bob and Ruth Fletcher
Bob Fletcher and his wife, Ruth, convene their family twice yearly at SDF to discuss community needs and recommend grants.

Leaving a Legacy

San Diego Foundation can help engage different generations to shape a family’s overall charitable legacy. Our staff has been trained in multi-generational philanthropic advising to present giving strategies that appeal to all ages.

According to Bob Fletcher, grandson of Col. Ed Fletcher, “Converting the private foundation to a donor-advised fund allowed our large extended family to experience the joy of carrying on the legacy of our grandparents.”

Bob shared that the extended Fletcher family convenes twice yearly at SDF to discuss community needs and recommend grants. “We use these meetings not only to carry out the family’s philanthropic mission but as a reunion and time to reconnect,” he added.

For more information on how you can solidify your family legacy through a donor-advised fund at SDF, contact us today.

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