[POSTPONED/MOVED TO WEBINAR] Donor Advised Funds and Their Critics

April 22nd, 2020 - 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Fisher Conference Center, Arrillaga Alumni Center 326 Galvez St
Stanford, CA 94305


Note: This event will be moved to webinar at a later date. Details forthcoming. 


Do donor advised funds (DAFs) help or hurt philanthropy? Join us for a public forum featuring Stanford law, business, graduate, and undergraduate students as they share their learnings, research, and recommendations from the winter Policy Lab practicum on donor advised funds led by Stanford Law Professors Joseph Bankman, Paul Brest, and Daniel Hemel.

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 are 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.