Donor-Advised Funds vs. Private Foundations

Donor-advised funds and private foundations are both powerful ways to give. What’s right for you? See the chart below for a list of some of the differences and benefits between a Giving Fund and a private foundation.

Giving Fund vs Private Foundation
Giving Fund Private Foundation
Right away Several weeks to several months
$5,000 No minimum funding,
but set up costs and annual expenses
favor larger balances
0.15% to 0.60% of assets
(depending on balance)
Varies; studies indicate
0.50% to 1.2% of assets1
60% of adjusted gross income 30% of adjusted gross income
30% of adjusted gross income 20% of adjusted gross income
None3 5% of net asset value
(with certain adjustments) annually
None 1% to 2%
Recipient charity is not required to disclose names of contributors Foundation tax returns must disclose information on donors, grants, investment fees, trustee names, and compensation of highest paid employees and management (trustees and board members)
None Keep track of records, manage assets, administer grants,
and file tax returns and other regulatory paperwork

1Forum of Regional Association of Grantmakers, A Closer Look at Foundation Administrative Expenses, 2007.

2Charitable deductions are subject to Internal Revenue Code limitations, based generally on your adjusted gross income and the character of any securities you contribute to your Giving Fund. There may also be state and local tax benefits to making contributions, but the content provided here relates to taxation at the federal level only. Availability of certain federal income tax deductions may depend on whether you itemize deductions. Charitable contributions of capital gain property held for more than one year are usually deductible at fair market value. Deductions for capital gain property held for one year or less are usually limited to cost basis. 

3If a Giving Fund lies dormant for five years, TIAA Charitable will contact the donor to facilitate a grant of at least 5% of the fund balance.

Contributions to the Giving Fund are irrevocable. All recommendations from donors are subject to review and approval by TIAA Charitable.

TIAA Charitable does not provide tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

TIAA Charitable is the brand name for an independent public charity that maintains a donor-advised fund program. The TIAA name is a registered mark of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and is used by TIAA Charitable pursuant to a license.

TIAA Charitable, Inc. has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt public charity under Sections 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”).