A proposed panel at the 2023 DAF Giving Summit

Jun 20, 2023

Suggesting a session for serious self-examination.

The 2023 DAF Giving Summit will be held October 2 through 4 in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Billing itself as “the only event of its kind” and “the charitable giving event of the year,” the summit about donor-advised funds (DAFs) says it will gather “thought leaders in wealth management and charitable giving sharing their insights and expertise.”

Through a DAF account, donors can make deposits and “advise” that grants be made out of it to nonprofit charities. DAF providers are themselves nonprofits, and donors to DAFs can get a tax deduction for a donation during the year that donations to the account is made—not when any grant, if ever, is ultimately made from the account to the actual working charity. Until a grant is made to a charity, the DAF money is usually invested.

In fact, the country’s largest DAF providers are connected to its largest wealth- and asset-management firms. The DAF Giving Summit’s sponsors include some of those providers, judging by a list of its 2022 sponsors. Community foundations are also DAF providers.

Last year’s DAF Giving Summit featured more than 25 sessions, one of which was on “The ACE Act and Its Potential Impact on DAF Giving” and another of which was on “Government and Philanthropy: The Past and What’s Ahead.” The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act would modify tax rules relating to DAFs—including, in certain cases, delaying the deductibility of a grant amount until the grant is actually made to a working charity, among many other things.

If there’s value in pluralistically engaging—or maybe just tolerating—alternative views and ideas about philanthropy and charity, this year’s DAF Giving Summit could and should perhaps delve further into some of the controversies currently swirling around grantmaking in general and DAFs in particular.

Earlier this year, for example, the United Philanthropy Forum’s “Foundations on the Hill” event, which brings philanthropists and philanthropy professionals to Capitol Hill so they can tell policymakers about the importance of the sector and its privileged tax status, featured a panel on “What Does Rising Populism Mean for Philanthropy?” (The Giving Review co-editor William A. Schambra participated in the discussion.)

A potential, provocative 2023 DAF Giving Summit session similarly spurring serious self-examination might be:

Whom or What Do DAFs Really Help—Money Managers or Charities, or Both—and How?

Ray Madoff, professor at Boston College Law School

Dan Petegorsky, Charity Reform Initiative of the Institute for Policy Studies

Jacob Pruitt, president of Fidelity Charitable

Dana Brakman Reiser, professor at Brooklyn Law School, and/or Steven A. Dean, professor at Boston University School of Law, co-authors of For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power and the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, and Strategic Corporate Giving

Nicole Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *