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Q&A: Making Sense of Donor-Advised Funds

Trustee David P. O'Connor '86, P'16, '18

David P. O’Connor
David P. O’Connor is the senior managing partner of High Rise Capital Partners, LLC. He has served as a University Trustee since 2007.

Q: What is a donor-advised fund?

A: A DAF is an increasingly popular giving vehicle—one administered by a public charity, which can then make grants at the donor’s request to organizations that matter the most to them. Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable are popular DAF sponsors.

Q: What are the advantages of a DAF?

A: Donor-advised funds are quite easy to set up, require little time or paperwork, and offer a centralized place for charitable giving. Once an account is funded with $5,000 or more, grant recommendations can be done online, even anonymously, in less than a minute. I have made grant requests through my own DAF account and have found it to be a straightforward process.

There are also important tax advantages. For donors who are still determining their philanthropic priorities, a DAF allows them to give a gift now, receive an immediate tax deduction, and then recommend specific grants to their favorite charities in future years. Gifts to a donor advised fund can also offer greater tax deductions than those to private foundations, making DAFs an appealing choice.

Q: Can a DAF support Boston College?

A: Yes, alumni, parents, and friends with a DAF can recommend that a grant be made to BC. And they can even choose a specific priority, such as financial aid, if they’d like. One can also create a legacy gift by naming BC as successor to a donor advised fund so that at their passing the University receives the fund’s proceeds. Either way, a DAF can be a meaningful part of one’s philanthropic strategy and a useful option when supporting Boston College.

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