What is a donor-advised fund (DAF)?

A simple, flexible and tax-advantageous way to give to your favorite charities.

A donor-advised fund, or DAF, is like a charitable investment account for the sole purpose of supporting charitable organizations you care about. When you contribute cash, securities, or other assets to a donor-advised fund at a public charity, like Fidelity Charitable, you are generally eligible to take an immediate tax deduction. Then those funds can be invested for tax-free growth, and you can recommend grants to any eligible IRS-qualified public charity.

You want your charitable donations to be as effective as possible when you give. Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States because they are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to give to charity. Let’s take an in-depth look at how a DAF works.

How a donor-advised fund works

GIVE

Make a tax-deductible donation

Establish a Giving Account and then donate cash, stocks, or non-publicly traded assets such as private business interests, cryptocurrency, and private company stock to be eligible for an immediate tax deduction. A contribution to a donor-advised fund is an irrevocable commitment to charity; the funds cannot be returned to the donor or any other individual or used for any purpose other than grantmaking to charities.

GROW

Grow your donation, tax-free

While you're deciding which charities to support, your donation can potentially grow, making available even more money for giving. Most sponsoring organizations have a variety of investment options from which you can recommend an investment strategy for your charitable dollars.

GRANT

Support charities you love, now or over time

You can support virtually any IRS-qualified public charity with grant recommendations from the donor-advised fund—from your local homeless shelter to your alma mater or religious institution. The public charity sponsoring your account will conduct due diligence to ensure the funds granted go to an IRS-qualified public charity and are used for charitable purposes. A Fidelity Charitable Giving Account is a great way to support charities you love at a pace that is comfortable for you. 

A smarter way to give

What if you could support your favorite charities with just one donation? That's the power of a donor-advised fund. Fidelity Charitable's is called the Giving Account.

Watch this quick video to see how it works. (02:43)

QUIZ

Is a donor-advised fund right for you?

Try out this fast 5-question quiz to determine whether a donor-advised fund suits your needs.

3 simple steps to get started today

OPEN

Takes less than five minutes

Opening a Giving Account is simple, with no minimum to open and no ongoing balance to maintain as you continue on your giving journey.

FUND

Stocks, Bonds, Cash

Decide how you want to fund your account and how often.

GIFT

Help charities you care about

A Giving Account makes it possible for you to recommend grants to multiple charities per year and increase your philanthropy options.

Make more of a difference

Donating stock to charity

Simple, easy, and impactful—long-term appreciated securities, including stock, bonds, and mutual funds, can be donated directly to charity. These are generally tax-deductible for the full fair-market value. 

Naming your donor-advised fund

Though a donor-advised fund is not a foundation or a trust, many donors choose to grant from their Giving Account as they would from a family or private foundation. Because of this, some elect to use this language in naming their donor-advised fund.

Examples: The Frank Smith Giving Foundation, The Francis Williams Missions Trust

Donating an IRA and other retirement assets

It is always possible to donate retirement assets, including IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s, by cashing them out, paying the income tax attributable to the distribution, and then contributing the proceeds to charity.

How does the Giving Account work?

Discover the details of Fidelity Charitable's Giving Account—the smarter way to give. Maximize your impact and simplify your charitable giving.

Additional information

Review our FAQs to help you better understand how the Giving Account works. Explore the investment options to choose an approach that matches your goals. 

67%
of Fidelity Charitable donors say they’ve given more to charity than they would have without a donor-advised fund.2

2Powering Generosity Report

Open a Giving Account

Ready to get started? Open a Giving Account with Fidelity Charitable—the donor-advised fund that empowers smarter giving.

Try our demo

See for yourself how we make giving accessible, simple, and effective. Try our real-time demo account, which allows you to experience the features of the Giving Account.

Request your free
Giving Account resources

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A donor perspective

Amico Family who used a donor advised fund

The Amico family journey

The Amicos turned to their local child welfare organization, Embrace Families—where Peter also volunteers as a board member—to discuss how they could help improve the lives of older kids in the foster care system. They used a Fidelity Charitable donor-advised fund to help launch a program to support foster families with kids age 11 and older. That program, TeenEmbrace, has already seen remarkable impact: In its first year, data shows a 94% average placement stability rate among the 170 teens participating in the program.

Why Fidelity Charitable?

Join more than 322,000 donors who choose Fidelity Charitable to make their giving simple and more effective.

33

years in service

322,000+

donors

406,000+

charities supported