Charitable Giving Made Easy

Charitable Giving Made Easy

You don’t have to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist in Montgomery County.

As autumn arrives, many of us begin to consider our charitable giving plans for the year-end.  I am always so impressed by the high degree of civic interest and participation among Montgomery County residents, and especially among my constituents in District 1.

Recently I learned of a Chevy Chase couple who are one of many county families to set up their own charitable giving fund at the Montgomery County Community Foundation.  This couple, like many in my district, have a number of philanthropic interests, including their children’s school and their own alma mater, their faith community, their favorite charitable organizations in the county, and several other nonprofit organizations they support in the D.C. region and throughout the country.

To this couple, their new family fund feels like a private foundation, but without the costs or administrative hassles that come with a private foundation.  And the minimum to set up a fund is only $10,000, which means you don’t have to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist in Montgomery County.

These family funds, also called donor advised funds, are a popular alternative to a private foundation and are now offered by nearly 700 community foundations around the country, as well as commercial entities such as Fidelity and Schwab, and a number of other organizations, especially in the faith communities, like the United Jewish Endowment Fund.  A donor advised fund is a  component fund of a public charity that permits the donor to contribute assets (cash, securities, real estate and other assets) into a named fund and then recommend grants out of that fund with no payout requirement, no tax reporting, no excise tax.  It lets you focus on what is most rewarding about giving: identifying the charities that make the most difference to the causes you care about.

This couple in Chevy Chase is in their 40s, with two children, ages, 10 and 12.  He is a founder of one of the county’s newer biotech companies and is doing well.  Their financial advisors thought that they could maximize their tax savings by setting up some kind of philanthropic giving vehicle with appreciated stock.  They thoroughly explored several options with their advisors: private foundation, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, and the Montgomery County Community Foundation, and then chose to set up a Donor Advised Fund with the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

Setting up the fund was so easy.  They named it with their family name, contributed the stock, recommended their preferred investment advisor to manage the fund’s assets, and … they were in business.  Simple as that.

Now whenever they want to make a gift to a charitable organization out of their fund, they just fill out a simple one-page form and the Montgomery County Community Foundation sends out a letter and check, saying that the Montgomery County Community Foundation is delighted that this family fund is making a gift to the ABC charitable organization.  MCCF handles all the back office operations, just as if this couple had a private foundation.  The foundation staff is also available to help this family explore new areas of charitable interests, in the county and beyond.

The Montgomery County Community foundation is made up of over 50 of these kinds of charitable giving funds and over half are families in my district.  Some of these funds are big; some are as small as $10,000.  Some are family funds, others are memorial funds, scholarship funds or corporate funds….all using this easy vehicle because it makes the dream of having your own foundation truly accessible to everyone.

The Montgomery County Community Foundation just celebrated its eighth anniversary and you may be surprised to learn that this young community foundation has already given away over $10 million!  That giving represents the cumulative generosity of many, many county residents.  I am proud and appreciative of this impressive demonstration of generosity by so many of my constituents and many others.

For more information, call Sally Rudney, MCCF Executive Director, at 301-588-2544, x 11 or visit MCCF at its parent foundation’s website at