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Charitable Giving Is a Family Affair

A donor-advised fund is a tax-savvy way for families to pool their charitable dollars and create the next generation of philanthropists.

Question: I’d like to set up a donor-advised fund so my family can contribute to charities as a group. Does one person have to control the fund, or can several family members donate to it and get a tax break for the contributions? --E.G., Baltimore

Answer: The fund can be controlled by one or more people. Anyone named on the account can recommend grants, and anyone can make tax-deductible donations.

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Setting up a donor-advised fund is a great way to get your family involved in philanthropy, teach your kids and grandkids about giving, and build a charitable fund that can last for generations. Some parents start by controlling the fund themselves but have their children research charities and present their ideas at a family meeting. Parents may add the children to the account as they get older so they can make grants.

You can set up a donor-advised fund at many brokerage firms, banks and community foundations. Fidelity requires a $5,000 contribution to get started; Vanguard’s minimum is $25,000. You can donate cash, stock and other assets to get a current tax deduction, then take as much time as you want to choose the charities.

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