February 10, 2022

How to Name Your Donor-Advised Fund

Author René Paradis, Chief Operating Officer

When you open a donor-advised fund (DAF), one of the first things you must do is choose a name. For some donors, deciding on a name can take longer than they expected. So, what’s in a name? A lot, really. Whether it’s naming your startup, a new pet, or your garage band, you know that a not-insignificant amount of time, brainpower and research can go into this matter. Organizations, whether they’re businesses, nonprofits or sports teams, spend significant time and money researching what to call themselves.

Why bother naming a DAF? Choosing a name can be a useful exercise. The naming process can help you think about how you plan to use your charitable dollars, including whether you want to support a specific cause, honor a mentor, or begin a family giving tradition.

Your DAF is designed to change along with you. If your charitable mission shifts over time, or you’re otherwise interested in updating your DAF’s name, you can change it by submitting a simple account update form. In contrast, with a foundation, you must comply with lengthy IRS guidelines to change a name.

Here are a few of the most popular naming conventions that National Philanthropic Trust donors follow:

Family Legacy Names

A majority of DAFs are named after their donors, such as the John Smith Fund or, if multiple members of the family are involved, the Smith Family Fund. NPT allows donors to use terms like “foundation” and “trust” in a DAF name, such as the Jones Foundation or the Rodriguez Family Trust. If you would like your DAF to be part of your personal or family legacy, naming your DAF after yourself or your family is an excellent choice.

Memorial and Honorary Names

Others may wish to name their DAF in honor or memory of someone to continue that individual’s legacy. “Memorial Fund” or “Honorary Fund” are not uncommon in DAF names and an excellent way to carry on a charitable mission in the spirit of a family member, in tribute to a dedicated friend, or in honor of a loved one.

Mission-Related Names

Another option is to associate your DAF with your philanthropic intentions or the cause that is most important to you. If you are starting a family giving tradition, this is a great opportunity to discuss your charitable mission and goals with loved ones. By naming your DAF to reflect a shared mission, you may stay more focused in your giving over the years.

To get started, think about what you want to do with your charitable dollars and whom you wish to help. Consider incorporating an active verb like “heal,” “teach” or “rescue” in your DAF name. Feeding America, Step Up for Students and Save the Children Federation are examples of nonprofits with impactful names.

You can also think about what principles and values guide your mission. Maybe it’s equity, fairness and justice. Maybe it’s sustainability or conservation. It could be liberty and autonomy, development, or enrichment. Value-rich words and phrases can make great elements of a name.

Creative Names

There’s no end to the creativity of NPT donors. Lines of a poem, a favorite river or local place name—all have been featured in DAF names over the years. Such names work especially well if you have diverse grantmaking goals that touch many different causes and geographic areas.

For more information on how a DAF can help support your charitable giving goals, please call NPT at (888) 878-7900 or email us at npt@nptrust.org.

René Paradis is NPT’s Chief Operating Officer and has more than 30 years of experience in finance, accounting, compliance, technology and operations. Ms. Paradis has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maryland and is a Certified Public Accountant. Ms. Paradis is pursuing her master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly School of Philanthropy.

NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained here may vary depending on individual circumstances.