Defining Your Philanthropic Legacy

By establishing a donor-advised fund (DAF), you’ve made an important commitment to philanthropy in your lifetime and beyond.

Thinking about your philanthropic legacy can easily fall to the bottom of the to-do list, but we encourage you to document and share your giving goals with those most important to you. Completing your Legacy Plan is an integral part of your DAF account management. Having this plan in place helps you stay on target for your charitable giving goals now and in the future.

Your philanthropic legacy is how you intentionally want to give during your lifetime and what you want to leave behind. There is no wrong way to craft your legacy. The suggestions below are designed to help you reflect on what matters most and how you want to communicate your goals and intentions.

For a downloadable guide to building your philanthropic legacy, click the button below.

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1. Reflect on Your Legacy

Your legacy encompasses all aspects of your life, including career accomplishments, favorite hobbies, community activities and relationships with family and friends. Your values and actions inform how you move through the world. Reflect on what matters most and how you wish to be remembered. Reflection is an iterative process. As you learn more about issues and organizations you care about, your perspectives will change.

2. Document Your Causes

Documenting your intentions is essential to provide clear instructions for your loved ones. A written “Statement of Intent” to add to your estate plans can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. This is a non-legally binding way of capturing your wishes and may include:


  • A statement of values or beliefs or family traditions
  • Issues you care about
  • Nonprofit organizations that are important to you


3. Identify Your Inner Circle

Your inner circle is unique to you and may include children and grandchildren or a close group of friends. Some individuals rely on their financial advisor or estate attorney, while others work directly with a nonprofit organization’s development team.

Holding the responsibility for someone’s legacy can be a big undertaking.


  • Identify the people or organizations you can trust to fulfill your intentions.
  • Be clear about whether this is an invitation or an obligation, especially if including family members who may feel they cannot say “no.”
4. Communicate Your Intentions

Whomever you choose to be involved in your giving needs to know your plan—and how much flexibility they have to act on your behalf once you are gone.

For example, it may be helpful to share:

  • If you’d like grantmaking to continue for a certain period or in perpetuity.
  • If you are firm on your chosen organizations, or if your successors can identify and support additional nonprofit organizations that meet your giving interests.
  • If you would like to be anonymous or publicly recognized for your giving.
5. Create Your DAF Legacy Plan

Your NPT DAF Legacy Plan can be established and updated at any time. Even if your DAF account funds after your lifetime, you can appoint a spouse or partner as a joint advisor or name other secondary advisors now to make charitable decisions with those who matter most to you. Some legacy options include (but are not limited to):

  • Naming a joint advisor to recommend investments and grants now and to assume responsibility for the DAF account after your death.
  • Naming one or more individual successors to manage their own DAF account funded with your remaining DAF assets.
  • Naming one or more charitable beneficiaries to receive remaining DAF assets.
  • Establishing an endowment and recommending that assets be distributed over time in annual, recurring grants to one or more charities.



Get in Touch

If you’re interested in further deepening your philanthropic engagement or want to access philanthropic expertise, the Philanthropic Solutions Team at NPT can support you with customized research and guidance; visit our Philanthropic Consulting page to learn more.

Please contact the Philanthropic Solutions Team for further details at or (888) 878-7900.