[Webinar] Donor Advised Funds and Their Critics

May 14th, 2020 - 11:30 am to 1:00 pm

Online via Zoom Webinar Pacific Time (PDT)

Presentation Slides:

[Past] Event info:

Do donor advised funds (DAFs) help or hurt philanthropy?

The Effective Philanthropy Learning Initiative at Stanford PACS invites you to a free online webinar with Q&A. Featuring law, business, graduate, and undergraduate students, you will hear about their learnings, research, and recommendations from the winter Policy Lab practicum on donor advised funds led by Stanford Law Professors Joseph Bankman and Paul Brest, and Visiting Scholar Daniel Hemel.


When: Thursday May 14, 11:30am-1pm (PDT)

Where: Online Webinar via Zoom

Register at: https://stanford.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RZ9WSncUSDK3QdCQU42a9Q


Note from the organizers: This is a postponement of our previously scheduled, in-person event, originally planned for April. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that everyone is safe and well. This event is free and open to the public.



Donor advised funds (DAFs) are essentially tax-advantaged charitable bank accounts. Donors receive a tax deduction when they contribute assets to a DAF. At their discretion, donors (DAF “holders”) may advise the DAF manager, or “sponsor,” to distribute funds to tax-exempt charities. In 2017 there were about 460,000 DAF accounts, with total assets of over $110 billion. DAFs have been criticized on several grounds, and legislation has been introduced (but not enacted so far) to regulate them.

One criticism is that while donors receive the tax deduction immediately upon contributing to a DAF, they can take as long as they wish to recommend gifts from the DAF, depriving charities of the immediate use of the funds. Another criticism is that gifts made through a DAF can be anonymous, with only the DAF sponsor listed as the donor. At a time when the controversy around DAFs is only likely to grow, students from this Policy Lab practicum will provide an evidence-based analysis of the pros and cons of various self-reform and regulatory proposals. 



Individual Presentations and Transcripts

Timing of Deduction and Payout Rates

Gifts of Complex Assets to DAFs

The Effect of DAFs on Charitable Giving

Values-Based Investing

Advice Given to DAF Sponsors to Donors

Restrictions DAF Sponsors impose on Grantees