In the realm of philanthropy, many business leaders and owners have embraced the concept of personal donor-advised funds. They may not realize that the same financial, charitable and planning advantages apply to corporate donor-advised funds while:

  • Providing a framework for company giving.
  • Enabling companies to support specific causes aligned with their mission.
  • Streamlining grant decisions and budgeting for the company and its offices.
  • Facilitating employee engagement through philanthropy committees and volunteerism.
  • Allowing substantial contributions during profitable years to sustain consistent levels of giving during less profitable years.
  • Giving public voice to your organization’s philanthropy, which supports publicity, retention and recruiting.

Here are 10 tips to help your clients expand their corporate philanthropy with a donor-advised fund:

  1. Establish a Mission
    Develop a mission for all offices, ensuring alignment with company values.
  2. Create a Committee
    Establish committees with term limits for broad employee participation.
  3. Allocate Dollars
    Provide annual giving budgets to committees or offices.
  4. Engage Employees
    Allow employees to engage in grant recommendations to build connections to the organization and its values.
  5. Develop a Process
    Limit the number of employees administering grant recommendations to one or two executives, and be sure to appoint successor advisors.
  6. Set Thresholds
    Set larger minimum grant sizes to maintain charities’ perception of corporate support.
  7. Strategize Sources
    Determine funding sources for the donor-advised fund, whether from the company or a select group of executives.
  8. Determine Timing
    Submit grant recommendations several times a year, avoiding peak giving periods for charities.
  9. Prepare for Impact
    Donor-advised funds are not meant to be pass-through accounts; however, grants can serve both short- and long-term purposes.
  10. Set Expectations
    Corporate donor-advised funds are not designed for immediate re-granting or matching employee contributions. They are for significant corporate philanthropy.

Assisting clients in creating corporate-advised funds can help you forge connections with C-Suite executives and strengthen relationships with privately held businesses owners. In the end, the primary winners are the companies, charities and employees you help to create a positive corporate image and meaningful charitable impact.

American Endowment Foundation (AEF) is one of the nation’s largest independent donor-advised fund sponsors. AEF expands philanthropy by partnering with firms and advisors in the financial services industry, enabling more donors to create a significant charitable impact. To learn more about AEF’s resources for donors and financial advisors, or to open a donor-advised fund, visit or call us at 1-888-966-8170.