Q&A: What Should I Name My Donor Advised Fund?

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A Donor Advised Fund, according to the IRS, is “a separately identified fund or account that is maintained and operated by a section 501(c)(3) organization, which is called a sponsoring organization. Each account is composed of contributions made by individual donors. Once the donor makes the contribution, the organization has legal control over it. However, the donor, or the donor’s representative, retains advisory privileges with respect to the distribution of funds and the investment of assets in the account.” Creating a Donor Advised Fund and then giving your appreciated stock to it has several additional benefits over other methods of giving.

Normally the process of transferring appreciated stock is tedious and time consuming. You have to contact the charity and ask if they have a stock liquidation account. You need to get the charity’s account number and Depository Trust Company (DTC) number. You need to send instructions to your custodian and then value the stock transferred by using an average of the market high and low on the day of transfer. Using a donor advised fund is much easier but requires some initial effort to set up the account.

Unfortunately, the very first question on your Donor Advised Fund application is also the hardest one:

What is the name of your donor advised fund?

Like naming your firstborn child, naming your donor advised fund can be a hard decision, made harder by the fact that you’ve likely never met another donor advised fund before and aren’t even sure which names are socially acceptable.

Some comfort to begin: The name of your donor advised fund can be changed. You can change the name of your account at any time using Schwab’s Update Account Information form.

With some of the pressure taken off, the next question that needs answering is: Who sees the name of your fund? The answer is that you get to choose how many people know the fund’s name. Each time you issue a grant, you have the option of having Schwab print the name of your Donor Advised Fund on the checks that it distributes to your charity of choice. The other options are that you can print your own name and demographic information or you could even elect to remain anonymous and print nothing.

In this way, you could choose a name that clearly identifies your family or you could choose a name for your own benefit.

Many people use words like “Foundation,” “Fund,” or “Account” in their donor advised fund name.

Fidelity Charitable has an entire article listing examples of donor advised fund names. Their examples include:

  • “Bubbles the Bunny Memorial Philanthropic Fund,”
  • “Help for the Animals,”
  • “The Williamson Family Charitable Account,” and
  • “The Stella Simmons Philanthropy Foundation.”

By default, we’ve found most of our clients use their names. For example, “John and Jane Smith Charitable Fund.” However, a handful of clients take a different approach. They select a donor advised fund name which makes them smile and happy to be giving. Examples of out-of-the-box donor advised fund names may be puns, pieces from inspiring quotes or Bible verses, or a summary of your charitable mission statement.

There is no need to limit yourself nor is there a need to be immensely creative. For better or for worse, you simply get to pick a name.

Photo by Skön Communication on Unsplash

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Chief Operating Officer, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 700 financial articles. Her most popular post is "The Complete Guide to Your Washing Machine" while one of her favorites is "Funding a 3-Year-Old’s Roth IRA."