An article out this morning in The Chronicle of Philanthropy discusses the current trend in donor-advised funds. According to the story, gifts to donor-advised funds were up 23% in 2013. That adds up to a massive figure of $17 billion dollars channeled into the DAFs, which on average distribute roughly 20% of their assets to charities.
For those not familiar with the term, a donor-advised fund is a fund that acts somewhat like a foundation without the overhead of actually operating a foundation. Donations are made to the fund, with immediate tax-deductibility to the fullest extent allowed for gifts to public charities. Then, the donor can “advise” the fund’s managers to dispense certain amounts of that fund to charities of the donor’s choosing, the amount and timing of which is directed by the donor. This is true even if full disbursement to charity(ies) takes multiple tax years to complete.
For more information, check out the original story below. The article includes a pretty good discussion of what a DAF is.