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Philanthropy 831 Blog


Philanthropy 831 Blog about the people and organizations invested in the future of Santa Cruz County.

How We're Putting All Our Donor-Advised Funds to Work
By / October 1, 2015

We're in the Business of Making Grants

Our board of directors took a step to underscore the added value of a community foundation in managing a valuable tool for American philanthropy, donor-advised funds

This comes in light of all the hubbub and misinformation being circulated about donor-advised funds being mere piggy-banks for the hoarding of contributions intended for charitable purposes.

Donor-Advised Funds

We're Here to Help Nonprofits and The People They Serve

In September, our board adopted a policy to address the few (about 5% or less than five) inactive donor-advised funds we steward.

We recognize that some of our donors do not advise grants like clockwork and prefer to adhere to their own personal schedules.

However, if there's been no grantmaking activity from their donor-advised fund for two full years, we'll contact them to get a sense of their situation and offer additional help, research or advice on making grants.

Some of our donors live out of the area and even out of the country. So, under the new policy, if we get no response or no grants are made after three years, they'll get a registered letter advising them of our policy and possible actions to follow.

After the fourth year of inactivity, we’ll exercise our variance power and direct the funds toward the closest charitable purpose to the donor’s original stated intent.

A Community Foundation is Different

In general, a community foundation charges higher fees for managing donor-advised funds than the commercial gift funds.  

But donors are paying for much more than check writing and accounting services.

We work together to tackle human needs and the fees we charge help us cover donor education workshops and professional resources to make your giving personal and meaningful.

In 2004, we gave out $13.4 million—a record high—with a majority of the grants coming from donor funds.

I cannot predict we’ll match or exceed that total again this year.  But with help from our donor-advised funds, you bet we’ve got a shot.

Lance Linares

Lance Linares is CEO of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. You can subscribe to Lance's blog posts and follow him on Twitter.

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