January 10, 2024

New Year, New DAF

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Planning for a positive and impactful new year often centers around bettering ourselves through health changes, improved nutrition or regular self-care. You may not think of giving as a traditional way to increase your health but including philanthropy in our goals can help improve our lives and the lives of those around us. Acts of generosity—whether volunteering, helping a neighbor or donating to a cause that moves you—are proven to have benefits to our own mental and physical health.

If you recently expanded your charitable giving to include a new donor-advised fund (DAF), now is the time to ensure your DAF aligns with your goals for philanthropic success.

Create your legacy

Thinking about how you’d like to be remembered and ensuring that your DAF is set up to fulfill your vision can be something to easily put on a to-do list for the future. Every DAF account needs a legacy plan—instructions for managing your account when you can no longer do so. Options include naming charitable successors, often friends or family, who can carry your values forward or forge their own plans as a tribute to you. Another popular option is allocating some or all of your remaining charitable assets to the nonprofit organization of your choice on a one-time or recurring basis.

Review your investments

Selecting an investment option may have been a lower priority during the DAF account opening process, especially if you were pressed for time. Take a moment to review your investment allocations along with NPT’s investment options to ensure you’ve aligned your short- and long-term goals with your charitable portfolio. Consider how your DAF investments fit into your complete financial profile.

Include others

As you start your grantmaking plans, consider who else you may want to include in your giving during your lifetime. Many donors use their DAF account as an easy way to introduce next-generation philanthropists to the active role of giving. Some donors designate a few times during the year to bring family together to talk about the values they share and how their giving advances their vision for society.

Consider your assets

While the phrase “cash is king” rings true, NPT accepts a broad range of assets that could unlock philanthropic capital beyond your immediate assumptions. Assets like cryptocurrency, real estate and valuable personal items are all potential avenues for contributing to your DAF.

Due diligence and grantmaking

You may already have causes and organizations you care about and will prioritize for grantmaking. But if you are new to giving, take time to reflect. What pressing causes and issue areas you are most interested in tackling? Where would you like to see the greatest impact in society—whether that’s your immediate community or a place you feel connected to in the world? Starting to give begins with getting clear on what matters to you and where you see you can contribute to change. You’ll need to set a budget for how much you’d like to give and how frequently. Once you’ve considered how to approach your goals, making grants from your DAF account is easy.

A DAF can help you move forward with defining and acting upon your charitable plans. Take time to align your account with your goals and start making an impact on the causes you care about most.

For donors who need assistance with their account or would like support with establishing a philanthropic strategy, NPT is ready to help. Contact us at 888-878-7900 or npt@nptrust.org with any questions or inquiries.

About the Author

Alison Morse is NPT’s Vice President, Philanthropic Consulting and advises donors with philanthropic strategy and issue-based expertise. Prior to joining NPT, Alison served as a Senior Director at Geneva Global, where she led the Donor Advising practice. She worked with high-net-worth individuals and families, providing strategy workshops and one-on-one advising. Alison earned her B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.