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  • Writer's pictureErik Arroyo

How a Private Foundation Can Be Better Than a Donor-Advised-Fund

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

There are several advantages to establishing a private foundation over a donor-advised fund (DAF) for charitable giving:


When it comes to charitable giving, donors have a variety of options available to them. Two popular options are private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs). While both of these vehicles offer tax benefits, there are some key differences between them. In this article, we will explore how a private foundation can be better than a DAF plan for longevity.

Private foundations are typically established by individuals, families, or corporations to support charitable causes. They offer several advantages over DAFs, including control, flexibility, tax benefits, longevity, and family involvement.


Control


One of the most significant advantages of a private foundation is the control it offers over charitable giving. With a private foundation, the donor maintains control over the foundation's assets and can make decisions about how they are used to achieve charitable goals. The donor can choose the causes that the foundation supports and can be involved in the decision-making process for grant-making.

In contrast, donors who contribute to a DAF relinquish control over their assets to the sponsoring organization and cannot dictate how the funds are used. The sponsoring organization has the final say on how the funds are disbursed, which may not align with the donor's charitable goals.


Flexibility


Private foundations offer more flexibility in terms of grant-making and charitable activities. They can support a wide range of charitable causes and can engage in a variety of activities to achieve their charitable goals. Private foundations can make grants to qualified charitable organizations, fund research, support educational programs, and more.

DAFs, on the other hand, are limited to making grants to qualified charitable organizations and cannot engage in direct charitable activities. This means that private foundations have more freedom to pursue their charitable goals in ways that are not available to DAFs.


Tax benefits


Private foundations offer a range of tax benefits that are not available with DAFs. Contributions to a private foundation are tax-deductible, and the foundation is exempt from paying taxes on its investment income. This can make private foundations an attractive option for charitable giving, especially for donors who are looking for ways to minimize their tax burden while making a positive impact.

DAFs do not offer the same tax benefits and are not tax-exempt. Donors who contribute to a DAF may be able to claim a tax deduction for their contributions, but they will not receive the additional tax benefits available to private foundations.


Longevity


Private foundations can exist in perpetuity, allowing donors to create a lasting legacy of charitable giving. This can be particularly appealing for donors who want to establish a long-term charitable giving plan that will continue to benefit causes they care about even after they are gone.

DAFs, on the other hand, must distribute all of their assets within a certain time frame, typically 20-25 years. This means that a DAF will eventually be dissolved and will no longer be able to make grants. Private foundations, on the other hand, can continue to make grants for generations to come.


Family involvement


Private foundations can be a way for donors to involve their family in charitable giving and to educate future generations about philanthropy. Donors can involve family members in the decision-making process for grant-making and can use the foundation as a way to teach younger generations about the importance of charitable giving.

Additionally, private foundations can provide a way for families to work together on a shared charitable goal, strengthening family bonds and creating a shared sense of purpose. This can be especially meaningful for families who have a long history of philanthropy or who want to establish a legacy of giving.


Regulations


While private foundations offer many advantages, they also come with added responsibilities and regulations. Private foundations are subject to strict IRS regulations, including the minimum distribution requirement. The minimum distribution requirement stipulates that private foundations must distribute at least 5% of their assets each year to qualified charitable organizations. This requirement ensures that private foundations are actively engaged in charitable giving and that they are not simply hoarding assets.

Private foundations must also file an annual tax return (Form 990-PF) with the IRS. This form provides information about the foundation's assets, expenses, and grants made during the year. Private foundations are also subject to other regulations, such as restrictions on self-dealing and excess business holdings.


The added responsibilities and regulations associated with private foundations can be daunting for some donors. However, they can also provide a sense of structure and accountability that can be beneficial for donors who want to ensure that their charitable giving is effective and sustainable.


Donor Recognition


Another advantage of private foundations is the opportunity for donor recognition. Private foundations can be named after the donor or their family, creating a lasting legacy that is associated with their charitable giving. This can be particularly meaningful for donors who want to ensure that their charitable giving is remembered and appreciated.

In contrast, DAFs do not offer the same opportunity for donor recognition. Since DAFs are sponsored by a third-party organization, the donor's name is not typically associated with the grants made through the fund.


Investment Management


Private foundations also offer more control over investment management than DAFs. Private foundations can manage their own investments or hire an investment manager to oversee their assets. This can provide donors with greater flexibility and control over the performance of their charitable giving.


In contrast, DAFs typically offer a limited selection of investment options, and donors do not have direct control over the investment management of the fund. While the sponsoring organization may offer some guidance on investment options, donors may not have the same level of control over the performance of their charitable giving as they would with a private foundation.


Philanthropic Impact


One of the primary goals of charitable giving is to make a positive impact on the world. Private foundations offer donors the opportunity to make a significant philanthropic impact over the long term. By establishing a private foundation, donors can create a lasting legacy of charitable giving that can benefit their chosen causes for generations to come.

Private foundations also offer donors the opportunity to take a more proactive approach to philanthropy. By engaging in direct charitable activities, private foundations can make a tangible impact on their chosen causes. This can be especially meaningful for donors who want to be more involved in the charitable giving process and who want to see the impact of their contributions firsthand.

In contrast, DAFs are typically more passive in their approach to charitable giving. While donors can recommend grants to qualified charitable organizations, they do not have direct control over how their contributions are used or the impact they have.


Conclusion


Private foundations offer a range of advantages for donors who want to create a lasting legacy of charitable giving. They offer control, flexibility, tax benefits, longevity, family involvement, donor recognition, investment management, and the opportunity to make a significant philanthropic impact. While private foundations do come with added responsibilities and regulations, they can provide a sense of structure and accountability that can be beneficial for donors who want to ensure that their charitable giving is effective and sustainable.


Overall, private foundations are a great option for donors who want to take a more proactive approach to philanthropy and who want to make a significant impact on their chosen causes over the long term.



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