Frequently asked questions about donor-advised funds
What is a donor-advised philanthropic fund?
A donor-advised philanthropic fund is a fund that you establish for a minimum of $5,000 at the JCEF. You, as the establishing donor, make recommendations for grants from the fund to Jewish and/or general charities in your fields of interest.
How does it work?
You, your family and friends can transfer assets of virtually any kind (cash, securities, closely held stock, businesses, insurance, real estate, among others) into the fund. The assets are managed by the JCEF, and you recommend to the JCEF the charitable organizations to receive grants. The JCEF makes the grants, maintains the records, and provides you with simple receipts and statements for tax reporting purposes.
Are there tax advantages?
Donors of assets to the fund receive an income tax deduction for the full market value of the asset. The tax savings is based on the donor's income tax bracket. For example, if a donor who is in the 31% tax bracket donates $10,000 in cash or publicly traded securities held for more than a year, the donor receives an income tax deduction of $10,000 with tax savings of $3,100. In addition, if the donation to the fund was in the form of appreciated property, the donor avoids paying capital gains tax.
Can I set up the fund in any name I want?
Yes. You select the name of the fund. Use your own name or another name that is meaningful to you. The fund can also be anonymous.
How does the fund help the needs in the community that I am interested in?
The fund makes grants to charitable organizations recommended by the establishing donor, subject to approval of the JCEF volunteer distribution committee. Grants reflect the establishing donor's interests and priorities. Since 1987, JCEF donor-advised funds have granted over $219 million to address an entire spectrum of Jewish and general needs locally, nationally, and abroad.
Aren't these funds for more affluent philanthropists?
A donor-advised philanthropic fund can be established with as little as $5,000. The minimum amount for grant recommendations is $100.
How is the JCEF fund different from all other funds?
What makes JCEF unique is personalized and responsive service concerning all areas of philanthropy. The JCEF can meet with families to help identify goals and charitable interests. JCEF staff will research organizations that match the donor's areas of concern. To ensure that identified needs are addressed, the JCEF evaluates programs on an ongoing basis, and will work with agencies to help develop new programs. These are among the important services that JCEF provides its donors, and the community.
How can I access online information about a fund I establish?
The Jewish Community Endowment Fund offers access to information about individual donor-advised philanthropic funds through the JCEF web site, for those donors who have requested this service. This information is confidential and is only available to fund donors and advisors who have registered with the JCEF.
How are the assets in the fund managed?
Investments in donor-advised funds are overseen by a volunteer committee of experienced investment professionals who select professional managers for all JCEF assets. The performance of these managers is assessed quarterly by an outside consultant. Donors who establish a donor-advised fund for a minimum of $10,000 may recommend investment options for fund assets from among several no-load mutual funds.
I've got a busy schedule. How is this program going to help me?
The JCEF makes charitable giving easy, flexible, and convenient for you. Simplified record keeping, centralized donation and grant-making reduce your time involved in the important work of philanthropy. You can add to your fund at any time. With one simple form, you can recommend grants from the fund at your convenience (subject to JCEF guidelines) and avoid the year-end pressure of making multiple charitable gifts. Meanwhile, the assets in the fund continue to grow to be used for future grants.
How does giving to the Federation's Annual Campaign differ from establishing a philanthropic fund?
Contributions to the annual campaign are allocated by the Federation to meet the current operating needs of over sixty local, national, and overseas organizations. A philanthropic fund targets its grants by the donor's recommendations to those Jewish and/or general charitable organizations that meet the donor's interests.
Should I have my professional advisor talk to you about this?
Although JCEF donor-advised funds are very easy for donors to handle directly, if you prefer to have us work directly with your accountant, attorney, or other professional advisor, we would be happy to do so.
For more information contact:
Ruth Bender, Program Director & Philanthropic Advisor, 415.512.6205 or RuthB@sfjcf.org