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Donor Advised Funds and the Democratization of Giving

Donor Advised Funds and the Democratization of Giving

by Bill High

You might know I spend a good deal of time teaching fundraisers what I’ve learned from working with major donors, but today I’d like to draw attention to a trend in the other direction, toward the democratization of giving.

What do I mean? One of the more dramatic growth areas in charitable giving has been the rapid increase in the number of donor advised funds. Donor advised funds are a simple charitable tool where a donor can create a fund inside of a public charity. They can do their giving simply and easily from the fund, and end up with just one giving receipt at the end of year.

Today, there are over 800,000 donor advised fund accounts. A few short years ago the number of accounts was 200,000. By comparison, there are only 80,000 private foundations.

But there’s an interesting trend going on with donor advised funds. They are getting smaller. It used to be that $10,000 was the required minimum contribution. Other fund sponsors required $50,000 or more.

At The Signatry, we’ve always allowed donor advised funds of any amount. We’ve also never required an annual minimum fee. It’s part of our belief that giving should be for everyone, including the student just graduating from college or the family seeking greater efficiency in their giving.

Recently, Fidelity Charitable joined the ranks. They are now allowing funds of any size to open, which is a drop from their previous $5,000 requirement. Similarly, Fidelity dropped its $100 annual minimum fee—at least for the next 2 years.

I think we’ll continue to see these “go-smaller” trends as part of the democratization of charitable giving.

What’s your view?



Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

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Published December 11, 2020

Topics: Giving Trends

Charitable GivingDonor Advised FundsGiving TrendsThe Signatry

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