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5 Reasons to Select a Christian Donor-Advised Fund

            Are you considering setting up a donor advised fund?  It is a great tool for giving.  You can give online.  You can do all of your giving through the fund and get one tax receipt, which makes life simple.  You can make a gift now, deduct now and distribute later.


            However, there are lots of donor advised fund providers.  Some of them are local and based right in your community.  Some are commercial in nature—Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.  If you are a Christian, you may want to specifically select a Christian donor advised fund provider.  Here’s 5 reasons why:


            1.            Ownership.   By making a gift into a donor advised fund organization,                         you are relinquishing ownership of your gift to the donor advised                                     fund organization.  You only keep the ability to “recommend” or                                     “advise” where your future gifts may go.  The parent organization has                                     no obligation to gift to Christian organizations that you may want to                                     support.


            2.              Boards.  Because you give up ownership of your gift, you are then                                     subject to the direction of the existing board and future boards that                                     will be elected.  Those boards will not be elected based upon their                                     Christian values.  Only the Christian donor advised fund organization                                     will have such criteria.  Accordingly, for the civic based or commercial                                     donor advised fund organization, the board will be able to restrict                                     grants to Christian organizations if they choose.           


            3.            Bylaws.   Be sure to check the bylaws of the underlying organization.                                      I’ve had people set up donor advised funds in civic based community                                     foundations only to find that their ability to carry the fund on to                                     successive generations is limited.  Some community foundations may                                     require that the fund carry on for only one generation, or may require                                     the fund to eventually become part of the general fund.  One                                                 community foundation requires that the second generation keep a                                     minimum of $250,000 in the fund or it becomes part of the general                                     fund.  Christian community foundations encourage multi-generational                         giving.


            4.            Causes Supported.  Many civic based community foundations take up                         support of particular causes.  Many of those causes are relatively                                     neutral.  However, progressively some community foundations are                                     taking more aggressive support of particular causes contrary to the                                     evangelical world—whether it be pro-life, pro-family, or basic                                                 Christian liberties.  Christians must ask themselves if they want to be                                     associated with an organization supporting those causes.


            5.            Administrative Fee.              Every donor advised fund organization charges                                     an administrative fee for administering the donor advised fund.  That                                     administrative fee goes to support the organization.  In addition to                                     supporting particular causes, Christian donors must also determine if                                     their comfortable paying an administrative fee that may be supporting                         causes contrary to their own beliefs.


            The considerations listed here go beyond what many consider when choosing a donor advised fund, but particularly for the Christian donor are essential considerations.  There are many Christian donor advised fund organizations.  Visit as one example.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the National Christian Foundation Heartland. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously: » Learn More

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