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Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 03:49 PM   #1
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Donor-advised funds

We've been sitting on some highly-appreciated shares of Tweedy, Browne Global Value. (Worth over $33/share, bought at $14-$16 a decade ago.) IMO TBGVX is bloated and their currency hedging no longer justifies a 1.38% ER amid today's declining dollar. It was easy to switch the IRAs to a cheaper international allocation (Powershares International Dividend ETF, PID, 0.6%) but in our taxable accounts we've been waiting on 2008's lower cap-gains rates.

In a seemingly unrelated project we've been trying to figure out how to get more organized & efficient with our charitable giving. The obstacles have been convincing ourselves that we wouldn't "need" the money someday (perhaps for long-term care?), avoiding being a burden to our kid, finding a worthy charity, and preserving our anonymity.

The ER portfolio's last couple years' returns and our comfort with our expenses have finally convinced us that we won't need the money someday. Giving away enough to raise our SWR a tad (to 4%) is no problem. I especially like Rich's idea about hedging LTC expenses with term life insurance but I suspect that we'll stay self-insured for LTC. And we'll meet every parent's goal of being no more of a burden to our teenager than she already thinks we are.

Finding a worthy charity? Well, perhaps our standards have been a bit high. It seems to be "paralysis by analysis" to look for the world's most efficient & worthwhile charity when Oahu has a community foundation, our local Institute for Human Services, and the food bank. Might as well put the money to work now. I'd much rather give local and we can still hedge our bets someday with academic scholarships or Rabbit Kekai's keiki surf foundation.

Anonymity is still an issue but we might have figured that one out.

Spouse was also laboring under the misapprehension that we'd have to donate cash to charity instead of donating appreciated shares, which to her meant paying cap gains to sell off some of the ER portfolio. (It never occurred to me to donate appreciated shares to a local charity but, typical spouse situation, I didn't realize that she didn't know about it.) Even so it's still cumbersome to donate a few shares of TBGVX to a local charity, and anonymity is darn near impossible. However she read an article on donor-advised funds and she realized how this happens. When I read the article I realized that Fidelity can handle the donations anonymously.

We've been wrapped around the axle of figuring out a complete solution involving the amount, the recipient, and the timing. However a donor-advised fund neatly splits the whole project into smaller pieces. We can donate whenever we want. We don't have to pick a charity right away and we don't have to match our actual grant to our estimated taxes. We don't have to figure out a way to do it anonymously. Fidelity's 0.6% expense ratio ain't cheap but it's petty cash next to the effort of setting up a private foundation or of finding a cutout to handle anonymous donations.

Fidelity's been doing this since 1999 and it looks like they have the bugs worked out. Since we have a Fidelity account it'd be easy to funnel our giving through their website.

Does anyone else here use Fidelity for donations & grants? Any problems or other surprises with Fidelity or with DAFs in general?
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 04:05 PM   #2
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I would think that giving confidentiality would be a standard feature with charities receiving gifts. I realize that confidentiality and being able to give anonymously are two different things, but I would expect for most folks confidentiality would be sufficient.

One of my "hats" is as treasurer for our church. The only two people that have access to who gives what is myself and our bookkeeper, an independent contractor not associated with the church. Since I only monitor the income totals not who is giving what..that means only the bookkeeper has the real info and that's needed for end of year giving statements for folks to use on their taxes. We also have a broker set up that can receives stock gifts into the church account.

I would expect charities of any size would be able to directly receive gifts of stock as well, and would have a well controlled giving confidentiality process.

Just a few thoughts for folks that don't want to set up a middle man arrangement.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 04:29 PM   #3
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by gandalf42
I would think that giving confidentiality would be a standard feature with charities receiving gifts. I realize that confidentiality and being able to give anonymously are two different things, but I would expect for most folks confidentiality would be sufficient.
Several other posters have mentioned being hounded by organizations (like PBS) to give more more more after their initial donation. And if a charity's donor list is sold made available to "affiliated organizations" then we'd have to de-list our phone number and retrieve our mail with a forklift.

Oahu's a small island. I'd prefer to give anonymously no matter how professional the recipients are. Fidelity hands over the 8283 at the time of donation, not the grant, so we get the deduction without any anonymity hassles.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Several other posters have mentioned being hounded by organizations (like PBS) to give more more more after their initial donation. And if a charity's donor list is sold made available to "affiliated organizations" then we'd have to de-list our phone number and retrieve our mail with a forklift.
Point made. The annoying "charity" calls have been growing in number lately. They have crossed my threshold of pain such that I am invoking the "Add Me To Your Do Not Call List" spell again. Have to see if it tapers off over the next few months.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 06:46 PM   #5
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I ran a non-profit charitable organization for years and if a donor requested anonymity, we honored their request. Period. In those cases, no one, other than our fund raising manager, our accountant and I knew the names or details of the grant. Even the board was told only the amount and any restrictions placed on the gift. If you wish to remain anonymous, you should expect this as part of the charity's overall stewardship.

And as far as contacting past donors for repeat gifts, it is a truism that the best givers are those who gave before. It is much, much easier to get a repeat gift than to find new $$. Some organizations feel it appropriate to contact a past giver as often as every quarter. We did not. We had a standing policy of contacting previous donors only once a year with a funding request -- although we would send out newsletters, etc. during the year. With each mailing/contact, we gave the donor an "opt out" option on receiving additional mailings.

As with requesting anonymity, any donor who requests "no solicitations" should be respected for his/her wishes. If the charity doesn't comply, find another -- there are hundreds of thousands of worthwhile groups out there!
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 07:01 PM   #6
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I've looked at setting these up at Schwab (Vanguard, Fido and Schwab have virtually identical programs) many times in the past, but at the end I have not done so. My basic thought was giving roughly 20K in highly appreciated stock I figured this would allow me to make $1,000-$1,200 contributions a year a bit more than I normally give

Pro:
Get an upfront tax deduction of about $5,000 instead of a few hundred bucks a year.
Makes it much easier to give gifts anomously.
Pretty much forces me to give a contributions each year and the amount will prolly grow with time.

Con:
The money is gone what if I need it.
The fees $120+ a year represents about 10% of the contribution to charity.
Instead of making modest gifts every year, very tempted to make a large contribution once and make a difference.
I am not sure you can still get the membership benefits via the Charitable giving foundation. I.e. if I want to get my really cool PBS tote bag, do I still qualify by giving through a foundation.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 07:07 PM   #7
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp
I am not sure you can still get the membership benefits via the Charitable giving foundation. I.e. if I want to get my really cool PBS tote bag, do I still qualify by giving through a foundation.
When a charity receives a donation through a donor-advised fund (DAF), either at Fidelity, a community foundation or other DAF, the recipient charity is given the name and address of the donor -- unless the donor specifically requested anonymity. The charity is asked to acknowledge the gift to the donor -- which can include the cool tote bag. If the donor is anonymous, the charity acknowledges the gift to the DAF.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 07:48 PM   #8
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Re: Donor-advised funds

We have a donor-advised fund with Fidelity as as you have discussed it is just wonderful to take the deduction in an appropriate year and contribute amounts at the appropriate time. The expense is reasonable. I can't think of a better approach. Tax deductions are a government incentive- charitable donations for our family are a part of retirement. What I think is neet is to slowly set up a fund that will last for a family legacy- and try and contribute 4-5% of that fund each year.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-20-2007, 08:09 PM   #9
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I set up a DAF in 2006 with Vanguard. I was choosing between Vanguard, Fidelity and T Rowe Price.

Here was a summary of what I found:

Annual Administrative Fee (charged over and above the fund expense ratios)
0.57% Vanguard
0.60% Fidelity
0.50% TRP

Minimum Balance to receive discounted Administrative Fee
$1MM Vanguard
$500k Fidelity
$500k TRP

Minimum Initial Investment
$15,000 Vanguard
$5,000 Fidelity
$10,000 TRP

Minimum Additional Contribution
$5,000 Vanguard
$1,000 Fidelity
$500 TRP

Range of Mutual Fund Expense Ratios, and # of investment options
0.22% average (5 pools/Fund of Funds offered) Vanguard
0.18% to 1.11% (11 different pools) Fidelity
0.35% to 0.74% (5 funds offered) TRP

Minimum Balance or the account will be automatically liquidated
N/A Vanguard
$5,000 Fidelity
$2,500 TRP

Minimum Balance to Avoid Fee (Amount of Fee)
$15,000 ($100 annual) Vanguard
N/A Fidelity & TRP

Minimum grant size (Increment of grant size)
$500 (N/A) Vanguard
$100 ($50) Fidelity
$250 (N/A) TRP

# of grants allowed per year before fee
N/A Vanguard
N/A Fidelity
10 TRP

Despite the negatives of Vanguard for low balances and minimums, I opted for them given the lower expense ratios/administrative fees, and the funds offered.

You can remain completely anonymous or be named by Vanguard. Also, you can name your fund whatever you want to - the Lost Art of Surfing The Big One Charitable Fund, if you want. Another interesting fact: with Vanguard (don't know if this is true of the others), I was told by my account representative that Vanguard Charitable is bound by the IRS to distribute a minimum of 5% of the total assets held by Vanguard Charitable, not your own individual account (which is what I assumed). The IRS requires that, after the first 5 years, an average of 5% minimum of the average annual donations to the Vanguard Charitable Fund must be disbursed to charities. Since Vanguard Charitable has averaged something like 15%-20% overall for several years, that means that I can let my balance grow (hopefully! ) for several years before distributing a single penny.

Vanguard Charitable's in-house rule is that you must make a minimum of $500 in grants at least once every 7 years. So, I'll figure on letting it grow for a few years, then start enjoying the art of giving. (another plus: you can make your grant recommendations on-line)

Disclaimers: I didn't know about Schwab, and the above data was as of 12/1/06, so particular details may have changed since.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 09:44 AM   #10
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Looking at schwabcharitable.org, I'm impressed with the setup of Schwab's DAF (lower minimum initial/additional contributions, investment options a little better, close administrative fees). If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably go with Schwab - but I'd have to do just a little more research first. But, it'd be a close call between Schwab and Vanguard, IMO.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 10:23 AM   #11
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Re: Donor-advised funds

It looks like the usual suspects are lining up in the usual order.

I'm not particularly for or against Fidelity but the inertia is pretty high after two decades-- especially the benefits of accounts consolidation & frequent trading. (Robust website, free billpay, free dividend reinvestment in stocks/ETFs, IPO/secondary allotments, knowledgable reps, minimal holds for a rare phone call). And the Fidelity DAF link is "right there" for transfers among all the other accounts. In the absence of specific Fidelity trash talk we'll probably go with them.

But it's all good. Schwab's rates look comparable to Fidelity. Our kid's Roth IRA is with T. Rowe Price but we'd move that to Fidelity when she turns 18 (no longer a minor) and can consolidate her account with ours for similar benefits. They both look good-- kinda like choosing between a 9.1 and a 9.2 out of 10.0.

It's ironic that I'd be donating TBGVX shares into the DAF's international fund. The ER only drops from 1.38% to 1.1%... but oh the benefits of a depreciating dollar, a rising euro, and worldwide economic growth.

I guess my primary objection to Vanguard is their hypocritical image-- wrapping themselves in the altruistic consumer-advocate flag and claiming to be "for" the retail investor. That image is a stark contrast to their shoddy treatment of Jack Bogle, their chaotic/uneven/inexperienced customer service, and their vicious application of early-redemption fees. They may be the low-cost leader yet they're still buying those flashy full-page magazine ads. Admittedly these feelings are tainted on both sides by a big dollop of emotion, and their performance is great if you don't need customer service or informed execution. Overall a 9.0.

At least the others (Fidelity, TRP, Schwab) have never attempted to appear to be much better than filthy money-grubbing nepotistical capitalists. My kinda people... except for that midgets & prostitutes scandal. What were they thinking?!?
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 12:26 PM   #12
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Re: Donor-advised funds

the above posters are correct - you can request to remain annonymous and your financial institution will notify the charity that they received a donation -

for donor advised funds we usually receive a check. check and see if there are any costs associated with setting this up since it is a service provided...

we do also receive direct donations of stock - usually via a wire transfer from your financial institution to our bank - again your fin'l inst'n should be able to keep you annonymous.

we sell the shares the day we get it and you get credited the avg price for that day.

for any charity - you can send back their mail or call and talk to their donor services people and request that you 1) remain annonymous (you won't be listed in publications) and 2) they only send you one letter/request per year.

we have a few donors who make the above requests as well - and in general we only send 2 letters per year.

another thing to consider is making a pledge to your charity of choice - if you know for instance that you will want/can give for the next 5 years or ten years - you feel good and get recognized for a larger gift and the charity has an easier time "planning" their income for that period of time. they wouldn't have to send you anything if you don't want reminders since you would send the gifts in according to the timetable (monthly, quarterly, annually, whatever).

this is my line of work and i also dislike the volume of mail i get from 1) groups i actually donated to 2) groups who obviously bought my name off the #1's lists.

my organization doesn't share/sell the lists and you can ask the groups you are interested in if they do so.

in general it is very wasteful - these groups are working off shear volume - send out 1 milliion, get back one percent - that is the yield!

the other day i got a nickel from unicef - trying to illustrate how valuable/what they could do w/ a nickel - i was so pissed - they should have kept the damn nickel and used it instead of guilting me to sending back at least a nickel and a buck for what they spent on that mailer!!! :



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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 12:36 PM   #13
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Re: Donor-advised funds

so ... how does it work if one in transfering mutual funds from a different MF company? i.e. if the DAF is at Fidelity and the MFs you wish to donate are at Vanguard.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 12:45 PM   #14
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by d
so ... how does it work if one in transfering mutual funds from a different MF company? i.e. if the DAF is at Fidelity and the MFs you wish to donate are at Vanguard.
I don't know, but brokers & fund companies transfer shares in kind all the time. It usually requires some paperwork but perhaps the two firms could set up some sort of website link like the way an ACH handles EFTs.

Hey, this "anonymous donor" feature has another advantage: "Please put me on your DO NOT MAIL list. I don't want any further mailings from you or from those organizations with access to your mailing lists. Our charitable donation plan already takes your organization into account with anonymous donations and you do not need to waste donor's money on our postage."

I might finally get off the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society hit list!
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 01:42 PM   #15
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords

Hey, this "anonymous donor" feature has another advantage: "Please put me on your DO NOT MAIL list.
If you really wanted to test the honesty of the charities you donate to, you could call it the "Heywood Jablowme Charitable Fund", and see how long it takes to start getting fundraising letters sent to your address for a Mr. Heywood Jablowme.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 04:18 PM   #16
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I found it remarkable how close the fees were for all of the brokers. Given, Nords high mucky-muck premium status with Fidelity, I'd stay with my dance partner.

One other option worth considering for charitable giving is to set up a charitable remainder trust directly with the charity of your choice. This gives you an immediate tax deduction now and a generally fixed income stream in the future. Most charities like a good size donatation 100K or so... and the return is lower than a traditional annuity, but at least profit associated with the annuity is going to a good cause and not an insurance company.

I have decided to be a tightwad maintain my strategic flexibility with my charitable giving, and wait tell my tax bill is higher.

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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 05:24 PM   #17
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
the other day i got a nickel from unicef - trying to illustrate how valuable/what they could do w/ a nickel - i was so pissed - they should have kept the damn nickel and used it instead of guilting me to sending back at least a nickel and a buck for what they spent on that mailer!!! :
I never give to any charities that give away money. Sends the wrong message to me.

I keep the money though!
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 08:14 PM   #18
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Re: Donor-advised funds

I gave some super appreciated JDSU shares to the fidelity charitable gift fund. Wish I gave more since the rest of my JDSU tanked to next to nothing.

I have been very happy with the fido service, but I just left the money in cash so I cannot comment on the quality of the funds they invest your account in.

The other point is that the current low long term capital gains rate makes it less lucritive to do than when I did mine. You may want to wait until 2010 when the rates go back up to put the main part in.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 08:19 PM   #19
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by MooreBonds
If you really wanted to test the honesty of the charities you donate to, you could call it the "Heywood Jablowme Charitable Fund", and see how long it takes to start getting fundraising letters sent to your address for a Mr. Heywood Jablowme.
I like that idea.

Actualyy, Nords, why not call Fido and have a frank discussion with them about your needs for privacy. I would be shocked if they have not encountered these concerns before.
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Re: Donor-advised funds
Old 04-21-2007, 09:59 PM   #20
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Re: Donor-advised funds

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp
I found it remarkable how close the fees were for all of the brokers. Given, Nords high mucky-muck premium status with Fidelity, I'd stay with my dance partner.
Yeah, it's almost as if they're reading each other's fee schedules and carefully orchestrating what the market will bear.

I got into Fidelity's premium status by trading like a hyperactive bunny for a year or so, and later moved all our eggs into one basket. It was surprisingly easy. We're done buying Tweedy shares and they have quite the customer service attitude so moving their shares to Fidelity got us more bennies & less hassle.

Maybe I'm biased against Vanguard's nautical "voyager, flagship, admiral" terminology...

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp
One other option worth considering for charitable giving is to set up a charitable remainder trust directly with the charity of your choice. This gives you an immediate tax deduction now and a generally fixed income stream in the future. Most charities like a good size donatation 100K or so... and the return is lower than a traditional annuity, but at least profit associated with the annuity is going to a good cause and not an insurance company.
Yeah, our alumni magazine liberally scatters that advertising among the class newsletters (and the obituaries). While it gets a lot of alumni the administration's personalized attention that they used to dread when they were students, I'm concerned about the lack of flexibility. I don't know much about CRTs but my impression is that they're irrevocable. I'd rather make our mistakes one donation at a time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clifp
I have decided to be a tightwad maintain my strategic flexibility with my charitable giving, and wait tell my tax bill is higher.
You could tell your poker partners that they're playing you for charity!

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
Actualyy, Nords, why not call Fido and have a frank discussion with them about your needs for privacy. I would be shocked if they have not encountered these concerns before.
Good idea. I called and they assured me that anonymity works just as advertised, although they won't pass on the tote bags...
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