Spread your giving over time

By Dan Kadlec, contributing editor

BILLIONAIRES: Have fancy foundations.

YOU: Can open a donor-advised fund to spread your giving over time.

The ultrarich love the prestige of foundations, and the tax benefits don't hurt either: Foundation benefactors get giant upfront tax deductions, plus the ability to keep making charitable gifts for years to come. You can get many of the same benefits with a donor-advised fund.

Brokerages such as Vanguard, Fidelity, or Schwab offer donor-advised funds, or you can set one up through a religious group, university, or community foundation, which is a nonprofit or trust that pools the money from many donor funds to support local charities.

When you open an account -- $5,000 to $10,000 is typically the minimum you can take an immediate tax deduction for the full amount of your gift. The money then grows tax-free, and you direct the fund to donate on your behalf whenever you like.

Brokerage-based funds tend to have the lowest fees and minimums and the widest selection of charities you can support (see the table above); a community foundation will offer more advice and know about local needs, says planner Benton. You can find community foundations in your area at the Council of Foundations website, cof.org.

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.31%4.32%
15 yr fixed3.74%3.65%
5/1 ARM4.16%4.02%
30 yr refi4.29%4.29%
15 yr refi3.71%3.62%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 25,100.93 136.18 0.55%
Nasdaq 7,296.42 62.11 0.86%
S&P 500 2,734.17 17.91 0.66%
Treasuries 2.89 -0.01 -0.24%
Data as of 10:45am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 31.97 0.04 0.13%
Walmart Inc 92.21 -1.90 -2.02%
General Electric Co 14.58 -0.15 -1.05%
Advanced Micro Devic... 11.90 -0.12 -1.00%
Devon Energy Corp 32.38 -2.27 -6.57%
Data as of 10:30am ET