Kim Laughton, acting president of Schwab Charitable, Schwab’s donor advised fund, said that through Nov. 30, 2011, contributions to the fund are up 76% from 2010, while grant-making is up 35%. In an interview with AdvisorOne on Dec. 12, Laughton (left) called those increases “refreshing, given the amount of uncertainty in the markets,” and pointed out that 68% of those contributions have come in the form of appreciated securities. “When the markets are up,” she said, the percentage of appreciated stock donated goes up as well.
She further noted that in 2009, the last recessionary year when the market declined, appreciated securities amounted to just 49% of contributions to Schwab Charitable.
Regarding grant-making, Laughton said that “One of the wonderful things about donor-advised funds,” is that you can continue to give even in poor market conditions,” noting that “our grants were still up in 2008.”
This fall, Schwab Charitable announced two initiatives making it easier for clients of advisors to indulge their charitable giving tendencies. On Oct. 19, it lowered from $100 to $50 its individual grant minimum–the smallest amount that donors may recommend from their accounts to charitable organizations of their choice. On the same day, Schwab announced a Charitable Legacy Program that enables qualified donors to extend their charitable grant-making over time after the donor’s death.
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In addition to giving appreciated stock, Laughton said donors are using donor-advised funds as a strategic tool along with private foundations. With funds like Schwab Charitable, the donor can give anonymously to nonprofits, while when private foundations make a grant, “it’s part of the public record.