The 8 Most Common Questions (and Answers!) About Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-Advised Fund Questions
Community foundations typically answer more questions about donor-advised funds in November and December.

In 2017, 30 percent of all charitable giving occurred in December.

As giving tends to increase as the calendar year winds down, so do questions that come along with charitable gifts.

For community foundations like The San Diego Foundation, this typically means we answer more questions about donor-advised funds in November and December than at any other point during the year.

To help assist San Diegans considering year-end donations, our charitable giving experts have created a list of the 8 most common questions (and answers!) about donor-advised funds:

  1. Can I open a donor-advised fund with non-cash assets?
    The Foundation accepts a wide range of financial assets. In addition to cash, you can donate appreciated securities to your donor-advised fund, including stock, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, life insurance and more, to avoid capital gains tax.
     
  2. What organizations can I support with my donor-advised fund?
    Donor-advised funds at The Foundation support 501(c)3 public charities in good standing.
     
  3. Can the grant purpose from my donor-advised fund benefit a specific individual?
    While community foundations do not permit grants from donor-advised funds to support a specific individual, we can support an individual in their fundraising efforts; i.e., sponsoring an individual in a walk/run to raise money for a cause.
     
  4. If my donor-advised fund is an endowment, can the principal balance of the fund ever be invaded?
    The principal balance of an endowment fund is not spent, which protects the earning power and enables donors to continuously donate earnings or grow endowments by reinvesting them in the principal. Our Investment Committee builds an endowment fund portfolio strategy that targets sustained financial growth to maximize returns for donors. This allows you to grant more money with the purpose of improving the quality of life in San Diego and for the causes you care about now and in the future.
     
  5. Can I roll my IRA into my donor-advised fund if I’m over 70 ½ and it is less than $100,000?
    Currently, federal law does not permit donor-advised funds to accept money directly from an IRA. However, to eliminate or reduce the impact of required minimum distribution (RMD) income, you can make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from your RMD to support scholarship, field-of-interest or designated funds, including programs and funds at The San Diego Foundation. You can also give directly to a nonprofit from an IRA.
     
  6. How do I submit a grant recommendation from my donor-advised fund?
    Submitting a grant recommendation online is the most efficient way. Foundation donors submit grant recommendations via our online donor portal, NetCommunity. Alternatively, donors submit grant recommendations by mail or email. The Foundation processes grants on a weekly basis. Grant recipients typically receive their awards within 4-10 days.
     
  7. Can The Foundation help me decide where to grant?
    Yes. As a community foundation, we bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, agencies and businesses to support nonprofits strengthening our communities. Our charitable giving experts have local insight and community knowledge and connect you with charitably-minded peers to maximize the impact of your gifts. External resources to help guide your grantmaking include GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
     
  8. After I pass away, who decides which organizations my donor-advised fund supports?
    Donor-advised funds provide a unique opportunity for San Diegans wanting to do more with their charitable giving. One of the many benefits of family philanthropy is the opportunity for your children and grandchildren to carry on your legacy through your donor-advised fund. Family members are often named successor advisors to donor-advised funds following the death of the original fund founder or advisor. If no successor advisor is listed, The Foundation makes future grants to nonprofit organization that support the original fund purpose.

Learn More About Donor-Advised Funds