What's right for you?

Below are six key factors to consider when choosing a giving tool. Consider rating each based on your unique needs and financial outlook or plan. Click Show More to learn about different giving tools.

While comparing and contrasting your options, keep in mind that many giving tools below can be used together. For example, a donor-advised fund works in conjunction with a private foundation to accommodate non-mission oriented giving or allow for alternative investments.

Tax Efficacy

Tax efficacy

To gain the most effective tax benefit, match the giving tool to the asset that fits the tool. The most tax-effective assets to contribute may be the one you didn't consider, such as complex assets or appreciated securities. Deductibility limits vary and maybe based on the asset donated or the personal benefit derived from the gift.



The more money spent on fees, means there's less money available for charity impact. Most giving tools have administrative fees to cover overhead, service costs, and accounting expenses. Investment fees may also apply. Over time, high expense ratios may erode returns and decrease charitable impact. Do you know which giving tools have the lowest costs?



How much control or decision-making power do you want over your services, such as grantmaking, investing, or administrative decisions? While strict legal regulations often dictate your control (depending on the giving tool), some tools welcome your input, without allowing direct control over the assets.



The benefit of a giving tool is to provide you the convenience and flexibility to support charities that mean the most to you. The giving method you choose should make giving easy. Does your giving tool allow you to support multiple charities at once? Or are you locked into limited distribution?

Leaving a legacy

Leaving a legacy

Establishing a giving legacy could take various forms, such as bestowing to others, naming a charity as a beneficiary, or continuing your family's giving traditions. Some giving tools may not accommodate intergenerational philanthropy. If passing your giving legacy on to future generations is important to you, select a giving tool that allows it.



Legally, not all giving options can offer anonymity. For example, private foundations are required to file public reporting returns that include information on grants, trustees, and employees, whereas grants from a donor-advised fund can maintain donor anonymity when preferred.

Mix & Match: Why settle for one option?

While comparing giving options, keep in mind that you can use more than one. Many giving tools complement each other when combined. For example, a DAF can be used with a private foundation to accommodate non-mission giving or allow for alternative investments. 


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