Dwight Poler

Donor Advised Funds

Streamline your philanthropy, with access to our research, skilled asset management and century of experience.

Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a charitable giving account created by an individual, family or organization. It offers an immediate tax benefit and allows you to make grants over time to your favorite nonprofit organizations. You can establish a fund at the Boston Foundation with a gift, which is immediately tax-deductible, and then use it and its growth over time to donate to qualified nonprofits anywhere in the world. 

Gifts to a Boston Foundation DAF may be made in the form of cash, stock, real estate or other non-cash assets. You can add to or replenish your fund at any time, with no minimum requirement - and you can make grants from your fund at any time.

Why a Boston Foundation DAF?

The Foundation was founded in 1915 for one purpose: To receive gifts from generous donors and to use those resources to make grants to the nonprofit organizations meeting the needs of Boston-area residents every day. Today, while many of our donors care deeply about Boston and Massachusetts, their philanthropy often extends to national and even global concerns. Grants from DAFs can be made to any qualified charity in the United States or abroad, and we have experience working with donors on this. 

The Boston Foundation compares very favorably with commercial gift funds; we urge you to compare advantages. The fees we charge for administering Donor Advised Funds go directly to our operating budget, not to a for-profit bottom line. Boston Foundation DAF holders are therefore helping to fund independent research into the region’s most pressing issues, and supporting our special initiatives and civic leadership activities.

Through the Permanent Fund for Boston, the Boston Foundation makes millions of dollars in grants each year to Greater Boston nonprofits, giving us unparalleled in-depth knowledge of the organizations working every day to address the region’s most pressing challenges. Donors are encouraged to attend Foundation-sponsored events, educational programs and other opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of important problems and the strategies being employed to solve them.

We offer three investment options for your funds, with investment strategies aligned with the anticipated time frame of the fund, as well as access to established SRI indexes. 

Working with You

When you open a Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation, you’ll be matched with a dedicated Donor Services liaison to discuss your giving goals, help you identify and evaluate nonprofit organizations and programs, connect you with other fund holders who share your philanthropic interests, create a plan that involves your family in your grant making, and consider the future of your fund. With the added resources of The Philanthropic Initiative, we can help you define a focus for your giving, create a mission statement or build a grants management program.

As an advisor to a Donor Advised Fund, you are invited to participate fully in the Boston Foundation, and have access to a range of expertise and strategic advice. Our knowledgeable staff can connect you with charities close to home and far away—lending expertise on a wide range of issues and helping you measure the real impact of your giving.

Making grants from your Donor Advised Fund is straightforward - advisors make recommendations directly through our online portal, and our Donor Services team can provide technical support and answer any questions you might have. Advisors can also use the donor portal to check fund balances, research organizations and learn about new giving and co-investment opportunities with the Boston Foundation. 

Donor Advised Fund or Private Foundation?

Donors seeking flexibility and impact often imagine they need to establish a Private Foundation in order to do their charitable giving. Yet a Donor Advised Fund offers many of the same benefits of a Private Foundation at a fraction of the cost while avoiding the associated legal, tax and regulatory burdens.

Just as with a Private Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund allows donors to support the charities of their choice, establish a tradition of giving that can carry on the family name, and receive an immediate—and often enhanced—tax deduction for the assets placed in the fund. Unlike with a Private Foundation, a mandatory minimum annual distribution is not required, there is no excise tax on investment income, and grants can be made in complete and total anonymity.

Private Foundation or Donor Advised Fund chart
This chart is simplified for clarity. The Boston Foundation does not provide legal, tax or financial advice.
Learn more about choosing or converting to a Donor Advised Fund

Contact Donor Services Officer Loren Van Allen to learn more about the benefits of establishing a donor advised fund.

Getting Started

Establishing a Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation is quick and easy. You may download and print a fund agreement. Our Donor Services staff is also happy to help. Please call the Office of Development and Donor Services at 617-338-2213 or e-mail any questions you might have.

You establish a fund at the Boston Foundation with a minimum gift of $10,000, which is tax deductible, and then use it to make grants when and as you wish. You may recommend grants to any qualified 501(c)(3) public charity or operating foundation in the United States and to international organizations with the same status, subject to the Foundation’s standard due-diligence procedure. There is no minimum yearly grant requirement.

You can add to or replenish your funds at any time, with no minimum requirement for additional contributions. We accept most types of gifts, including cash, publicly traded and restricted stock, IRAs, whole life insurance policies, real estate and other non-cash assets including limited partnerships, C-Corp and S-Corp stock, and tangible personal property. When you transfer non-cash assets to a Donor Advised Fund properly, they can be gifted without incurring capital gains taxes, allowing 100 percent of the proceeds to be given to charity. You may name your children or other family members as successors to a donor advised fund through a simple succession plan form.

Learn more about our other giving vehicles.