Can A Donor-Advised Fund Save You Money On Taxes?

By Jeff Gilbert

Can you think of one person who doesn’t want to save money on their taxes and be generous at the same time? Neither can I. Donor-advised funds could be a great option to lower your taxable income, which will decrease the amount you pay in taxes and simultaneously give more money to causes you care about. 

What Is A Donor-Advised Fund (DAF)?

A DAF works like a personal giving account where you can contribute money that is tax-deductible, advise on which charity you want the funds to be given to, and all the assets will grow tax-free until it leaves the account. (1) Although some DAF providers require a minimum contribution every couple of years, there is no law on how long the funds can stay in the account. That money will grow in the fund until you want to send it to a charity of your choice. 

Potential Tax Benefits 

Lower Your Income Tax By Itemizing Deductions 

With the new tax law in effect, which increases standard deductions to $24,800 for people who are married filing jointly and $12,400 for individual filers in 2020, you need more write-offs to justify itemizing your deductions. (2)

A DAF is ideal for when you earn or receive a sizable amount of money in one year. When you contribute to the fund, you can take an immediate tax credit for that lump sum of money and disperse that amount over any length of time to charities of your choice.

You just have to make sure that your cash donations are no more than 60% of your adjusted gross income. That is the maximum you can write off in one year. (3)

However, you could also use these funds to your advantage every few years without a lump sum of money. Here’s a scenario where you could receive more than $114,400 in deductions over 4 years:

You save $10,000 each year for 3 years and claim standard deductions for those years. In the fourth year, you contribute that $30,000 plus your annual $10,000 savings into a DAF. Now you have $40,000 that you can claim as itemized deductions in one year. 

By doing this, you receive a tax credit of $15,200 more than you would have if you claimed a standard deduction each year and were donating the same amount of money. This keeps more cash in your pocket and sends more money to causes you already give to or want to give to. 

Save On Capital Gains

Do you have a lump sum of appreciated publicly traded securities? The most common publicly traded securities donated are stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that have grown in value since you invested in them. (4) Donating part or all of these funds can reduce or eliminate the amount you pay in capital gains tax, which can also apply to real estate gains. 

Contributing noncash assets to a DAF makes sending money to charities simple and takes care of worrying about capital gains tax, all while that money grows tax-free.

Keep in mind that the annual deduction limit for securities and other appreciated assets is 30% of your adjusted gross income. (5)

Easily Keep Records

Maintaining records of your contributions is a huge plus when it comes time to file your taxes. DAF providers keep track of your contributions and provide you a single tax document you can give to your accountant, which takes the pressure off you to maintain those records.

There are many charities you can donate to that are not qualified charitable donations, but putting money into a DAF guarantees your donations go to a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Since DAFs can include actively managed funds and they take care of all the records and transfers, there could be administrative and investment fees associated with starting a DAF. Schwab and Fidelity (two of the three largest providers of donor-advised accounts) charge whichever is greater, 0.60 percent of assets or $100. (6)

Are You Ready To Save Money With A Donor-Advised Fund?

Using a DAF for your philanthropy is such an understated path to giving and saving at the same time. What was mentioned above are only a handful of ways you can take advantage of tax deductions and maximize the impact your charitable contributions have on worthy causes.

Let’s see if a donor-advised fund can help you save on taxes and is also a good fit for your financial plan. Give me a call at 949-445-1465 or email me at

About Jeff

Jeff Gilbert is the founder and CEO of Balboa Wealth Partners, a holistic financial management firm dedicated to providing clients guidance today for tomorrow’s success. With nearly three decades of industry experience, he has worked as both an advisor and executive-level manager, partnering with and serving a diverse range of clients. Specializing in serving high- and ultra-high-net-worth families, Jeff aims to help clients achieve their short-term and long-term goals, worry less about their finances, and focus more on their life’s passions. Based in Orange County, Jeff works with clients throughout Southern California as well as Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. To learn more, connect with Jeff on LinkedIn or email

Advisory services provided by Balboa Wealth Partners, Inc., an Investment Advisor registered with the SEC. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Balboa Wealth Partners and its Investment Advisor Representatives are properly licensed or exempt from registration.

Securities offered through Chalice Capital Partners, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC.

Balboa offers advisory services independent of Chalice. Neither firm is affiliated.








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