A boost for tomorrow's philanthropists

What’s hot when it comes to gifts for the graduate? You guessed it. Once again, the ever-popular, flexible, and tax-effective donor-advised fund carries the day. More and more parents and grandparents across the country are giving a graduating child or grandchild a donor-advised fund, pre-established and pre-funded, in the name of the graduate.

Donor-advised funds as gifts to the next generation are on the rise at innovative community foundations. “We’re inviting our donors to consider ‘gift funds’ as a way to engage their own family members in philanthropic values,” said a community foundation CEO. “We help the donor create the fund, including online access, so that the donor can literally ‘put a bow’ on the fund establishing document and roll it up like a diploma. The donor adds a card with our website and login credentials and presents it to the child or grandchild as a gift. Both giver and receiver love the experience.”

What's more, the donor-advised fund is a gift that keeps giving. “Many families consider regular communication to be a key part of the online philanthropy experience,” commented the community foundation CEO. “This way, the family’s values stay intact across generations.” Keeping in touch online is key. Families are becoming increasingly reliant on the donor-advised fund dialogue to share stories about the joy of giving based on personal experience. Some families even share a list of favorite charities that have meant the most to the family over the years. “Telling stories and sharing experiences is itself a gift,” added the community foundation CEO, “because what our donors’ families want more than anything is positive communication among family members, especially as children grow up, graduate, and move away.”

Family communication is always a plus, and communication across the generations is even richer when it’s focused on a topic like philanthropy. Intergenerational dialogue is a major advantage of selecting a donor-advised fund to anchor a family’s emotional connections. Hats off to donor-advised funds!


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IDEAS FOR USING THIS ARTICLE 

1. Work with the donor relations team to approach one or more families to give gifts of donor-advised funds to their children or grandchildren. Share these donor stories in a follow up article.   

2. Launch a mini-campaign in May to raise awareness about donor-advised funds. For example, after you post this article on LinkedIn, include this article in a special "graduation" edition of your donor e-newsletter and share the idea at your next board meeting. You can even forward the e-newsletter to your local radio station and offer to be interviewed about "creative gifts for the socially-conscious graduate."

3. Reach out to your scholarship fund donors and suggest that they consider giving a donor-advised fund to one or more graduating students who have been supported by a particular scholarship.