What gifts can’t be made through your donor-advised fund?

One of the great things about donor-advised funds is how many different ways you can give! Whether it’s liquid assets, appreciated stocks or property, a donor-advised fund is a safe, secure way to ensure your giving wishes are carried out efficiently. However, while there are many options for giving, there are some gifts that can’t be made through a donor-advised fund. Keep reading to learn more about our giving guidelines.

Grants must be given to public nonprofit organizations.

Each gift recommendation must be made to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as designated by the IRS. Most charitable organizations you know of qualify as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, but there are some organizations that are “not-for-profit” but are not 501(c)(3)s. Two common examples are political campaigns and foundations or private foundations. You also cannot give to an individual’s crowdfunding campaign, like those shared through GoFundMe or other online donation platforms.

Grants must be used for charitable purposes.

Gifts of personal value are ineligible. This means that you cannot use your donor-advised fund to purchase tickets to fundraising events, even if the event is hosted by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Because you would get a personal value – the ticket to the event – for your grant, this gift is ineligible. The clearest way to put it: you cannot receive any money from a grant disbursed from your donor-advised fund.

Grants can only be given directly to an organization.

Want to give a gift to a missionary or to a student looking to go to college? Through your donor-advised fund, you cannot give gifts to them directly. Since all gifts must go through nonprofit organizations, you would have to grant money to the organization overseeing the mission work and overall scholarship funds. While you can specify how you would like your gift to be used – like designating your money toward a scholarship fund for students in a specific program – you cannot stipulate that the funds directly impact a particular individual.

Grants have to go to organizations that align with our Christian values.

As a Christian organization, it’s our duty to further His Kingdom on Earth – one way to do that is by supporting Christian ministries. But, as a donor-advised fund holder at CCF, you can make grant requests to non-religious organizations so long as those organizations do not stand against our Christian values. We call these gifts Common Grace grants.

Questions? Feel free to give us a call at 901-682-6201 or email rex@hopeccf.org to discuss. We’re here for you!

When to choose a faith-based community foundation

If you’re a donor-advised fund holder, how did you choose the community foundation in which you invested? For most fund holders, a recommendation from a friend or a trusted financial advisor is all it takes to make a decision. After all, the organization is a conduit for your giving. Why should it matter which community foundation you choose?

If your ultimate goal is to find an organization that will help you manage your giving, then it doesn’t much matter. One community foundation’s fees may be nominally larger, whereas others might offer a more robust online giving platform. These differences are negligible to the average fund holder. But if you have expanded giving aspirations – like supporting organizations that align with your faith – then choosing a faith-based foundation may be the right choice for you.

When selecting your community foundation partner, we recommend asking the following questions to determine if a faith-based foundation is a good fit for you.


How do you approach your giving?

Giving is incredibly personal, and the motivations behind giving are unique to each individual. Community foundations can be great encouragers, spurring their donors to consider how they might improve the lives of their neighbors through philanthropic investments. If your faith drives how you approach giving, then a faith-based foundation might be a great fit for you. Your contacts at the organization will help you talk through your giving goals in a way that aligns with your faith and your vision, making the process clearer for you and your family. They can also provide faith-based encouragement, potentially helping you reimagine how and why you give.

Who are you giving to?

Community foundations can set parameters on which organizations you can and cannot donate to from your donor-advised fund. Most foundations keep these limitations to a minimum. But you want to make sure that the foundation you choose will help align your generosity with your Christian beliefs. If your preference is to donate to ministries or faith-based nonprofit organizations, choosing to invest in a faith-based foundation is a great option.

How do you want your foundation to operate?

Foundations fund their operations by collecting a percentage of gains on donor-advised fund accounts. Sometimes, these financially savvy organizations operate in such a way that they have surplus funds available throughout the year. These funds allow community foundations to invest in organizations as they choose. When you partner with a faith-based community foundation, there is an increased likelihood that any surplus funds will go to organizations that align with your religious convictions. At the Christian Community Foundation, our surplus funds go into the Hope For Memphis Grant Fund, which supports Christian nonprofits helping underserved areas of Memphis. Our donors know that any surplus funds we have after covering our operating expenses go to these organizations who also spread the Gospel.

Giving community prepares for wealth transfer

According to Federal Reserve data, Americans age 70 and older have acquired more than $35 trillion in their lifetimes, making up 27% of U.S. wealth. In fact, Cerulli Associates projects baby boomers will pass down more than $70 trillion by 2042. While the majority of these funds will go to heirs and family members, a large portion of funds will be set aside for charities and other philanthropic efforts. This is where the Christian Community Foundation comes in!

Recently, president Rex Jones spoke with Christin Yates of the Daily Memphian about what this means for
giving foundations like CCF.

As of 2021, anyone can give up to $11.7 million in inheritance and still avoid federal gift or estate taxes. Additionally, gifts up to $15,000 can be given within a calendar year without tax implications. This transfer of funds is causing nonprofits to see an uptick in donations and the establishment of donor-advised funds to better manage money.

“A benefit of a donor-advised fund is that you can create a plan for giving,” said Rex. “It’s our job at CCF to ensure your giving philosophy and wishes are carried out in the way you decided.”

Another benefit baby boomers are taking advantage of is a donor-advised funds’ ability to grow funds tax free. Money accrues and your loved ones get the best part of the job – giving it away!

To learn more about the largest wealth transfer in modern U.S. history, check out this Daily Memphian article.

How to talk with a financial advisor about donor-advised funds

Are you interested in opening a donor-advised fund, but don’t know where to begin? One of the best ways to understand all of the details that come with having a donor-advised fund is to talk to a professional advisor.

Talking with a professional advisor

Meeting with your trusted professional advisor, such as your CPA, attorney or estate-planning advisor, can help answer questions about how a donor-advised fund will fit in or impact your overall finances. These professionals will keep personal financial strategies in mind while also considering your current and future financial well-being.

Narrowing down fund options

Your professional advisor can provide numerous fund options that best suit your giving preferences. We cover a few of the different types of funds we offer on our blog.

Before meeting with your advisor, we recommend sitting down with your family and establishing your giving goals so that you make the best decision possible. At CCF, we refer to these goals as a stewardship philosophy. Check out our blog post to learn more about how to establish yours.

Asking questions

When preparing to meet with your advisor, one of the most beneficial things you can do is ask questions. If you show up with a list of prepared questions, the meeting will be much more helpful for you and the advisor. It can be intimidating to know where to begin, so we’ve listed some examples:

  • Is there a difference between establishing a donor-advised fund versus establishing a family foundation?
  • What’s the difference between giving through a donor-advised fund and writing checks directly to nonprofits?
  • How does a donor-advised fund fit within my family’s overall financial and estate plan?
  • When is the best time for me to start a donor-advised fund?
  • What type of assets can I contribute to the donor-advised fund?
  • How much should I contribute to my fund? How much should I give away each year?

Do you have additional questions about donor-advised funds? We’re happy to help! Give us a call at 901-682-6201.

Have you checked your donor-advised fund recently?

Donor-advised funds make giving easy, effective and efficient. It’s like having your own private foundation! However, we know how easy it can be to forget about your fund, especially if you aren’t a regular giver. If you haven’t established a stewardship philosophy for yourself or your family, we encourage you to learn how to do that by clicking here. A stewardship philosophy will encourage you to give more frequently and allow you to meet your giving goals. In combination with establishing a stewardship philosophy, regularly checking your donor-advised fund will help you remain mindful of your God-given responsibility to give that which you’ve been entrusted. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of monitoring your fund.

Gift giving inspiration

Regularly checking your donor-advised fund can serve as gift giving inspiration! When you log in to Donor Central, you’ll first see your available funds and your most recent gifts. From there, you can click “Recommend a grant” to search through a list of organizations who have previously received gifts from CCF’s donors. Scrolling through this list can spark inspiration for your next gift! Can’t find the establishment you’re looking for? Select “Add new charity” to add the organization you’d like to make a gift to.

Tax free growth

Another benefit to regularly checking your fund is to watch your fund’s growth. The funds invested into your account grow tax free, which helps you give even more! While this tax benefit is a bonus, we focus on the bigger picture of giving those funds away at CCF. We love helping you help others!

Organizational involvement

Last but certainly not least, a major benefit to regularly checking your donor-advised fund is staying up to date with CCF! We consider you a part of our family and enjoy getting to know you and yours. We pride ourselves in maintaining close relationships with our donors. We’re only an email or phone call away if you ever have any questions regarding your fund or need assistance with your account.

Are you looking to establish a donor-advised fund or stewardship philosophy? Do you have questions about Donor Central or the gift giving process? If so, please contact CCF’s director of donor relations Stephanie Jones at stephanie@ccfmemphis.org or at 901-682-1790.

Giving generously, impactfully and strategically

Talking about giving is challenging. It’s deeply personal yet critically important to share. If we all band together to share our giving stories, we can make meaningful change in our communities. At the Christian Community Foundation, we’ve been carefully honing our language and defining our purpose. As we seek to create ways for our donors to share their giving philosophy, three words continue to rise to the forefront: generosity, strategy and impact. 

When these three words are at the center of your conversation about giving, the message shifts from one that can come across as braggadocious to one that is engaging, enticing and motivating. It takes the focus off the giver and places it onto the process. 

These three words will guide our conversations about giving through the Christian Community Foundation for years to come. We’re excited to share what they mean to us and how we talk about them so you can reflect this message in conversations with friends, family and people you love. 

Giving generously. 

If you’ve spoken with Rex Jones, CCF’s president, about giving (and we hope you have), you’ve likely heard him say, “God doesn’t deal in dollars and cents but in the condition of the heart.” That is the crux of generous giving. We seek for our family of donors to give in accordance to their personal conversations with God and their families. When you focus on generosity as a concept and not as a number, it makes giving accessible to all people. Being generous isn’t about the size of your donor-advised fund account. It’s about the personal sacrifices you make in accordance with your calling from the Lord. Speaking with others about giving in terms of generosity shifts the conversation from money to the condition of the giver’s heart.

Giving strategically. 

When the Lord lays it on your heart to make a gift, it may not always fit within your budget, especially if you don’t set aside money for philanthropy. From a practical standpoint, giving can stretch us. At the same time, it can feel odd to put aside a pool of money for giving. But the Lord tells us to prepare our fields for harvest, and one way to prepare your financial fields is to allocate money for giving in advance. If you’re prayerfully considering your giving, it is no less meaningful to invest in a donor-advised fund at the beginning of the year to meet needs than it is to write unbudgeted checks as you’re presented with an ask. As an added bonus, when you pour money into your donor-advised fund, that money can be invested and grow tax-free.

Giving strategically helps protect the condition of your heart in the giving process and allows you to answer God’s calling when a need arises without jeopardizing your family’s well-being. When we talk about giving strategically, it removes guilt from the process and allows donors to reconcile their desire to give with the financial needs of their family.

Giving impactfully.

All giving is impactful. We believe that gifts given in alignment with a believers heart are used by God in ways we may not be able to fathom. Like we’ve said earlier, giving isn’t about the amount of money on the check. But when you give generously and strategically through a donor-advised fund, one advantage is that your money grows tax-free until you give it away. This is an incredible way to increase your impact through giving – one that excites many of our donors. 

When you give generously, strategically and impactfully, you are ultimately creating an active giving process. You are prayerfully considering what you want to give away, are making financial plans that account for philanthropy and are creating opportunities for your gifts to grow. This is a powerful conversation that we believe can transform Memphis and the world for the Kingdom of God. Do you want to join us in this effort? You can start today by contacting us at 901-682-6201.

How to model giving for your family

Traditions and practices are often passed down from generation to generation. Your dad may have taught you to throw a curveball, your mom demonstrated how to ride a bike and your grandfather showed you his mother’s famous brownie recipe. These practical lessons likely came in the form of demonstrations and more formal training sessions. After all, you have to strap on your knee pads and helmet before you hit the open road on your first two-wheeler.

Your family likely shared more subtle practices with you by modeling behavior. You learned how to hold conversation at a party by watching your aunt, and you noted how your grandmother took attentive notes during the pastor’s sermon. They didn’t tell you how to do these things, but you picked up on the importance and nuance of these behaviors by watching them in action.

Modeling giving and generosity sits somewhere in between. Some families make it a point to teach specific lessons about giving and its role in their household. Others take a more subtle approach, ensuring their children see what they’re doing in the hopes they’ll do the same thing when they’re older. But modeling giving, no matter the method, is important to create the next generation of burgeoning philanthropists. Here are a few recommendations to help you model giving for your children and grandchildren:

Make giving accessible to them
Your preschooler likely doesn’t have a bank account – and if they do, their counting skills may limit their ability to interact with it. While they don’t quite understand finances yet, they do understand sharing. At a young age, talk with your children about giving away household items like toys and clothes. Explain in an age-appropriate way that not all children have the same types of things that they have, and that it’s important to donate these items as they will help the community. With gentle guidance, encourage them to make the ultimate decision about what to donate and what to keep. Take them with you when you bring the items to your donation site, talking with them about what the organization does and how helpful the items you donate will be to children who need them.

Help them give of their time
Organizations in your community are always looking for volunteers. Find opportunities that allow children and families to volunteer together and sign up for an upcoming shift. Talk with your children in advance about the work you’ll be doing and how it will help people. Drive home that giving of your time is a great way to give back that doesn’t require you to give money or resources.

Talk about donating money
When’s the last time you talked with your children about the nonprofits you support? If you’re not already, you should be! You don’t have to talk dollars and cents, but sharing why you give to specific organizations can plant seeds in your child’s heart that will blossom as they grow older. When you receive an email communication or printed mailer with organizational updates, share it with your family around the dinner table. Talk about the work that is being done in your community and why your family chooses to invest in specific organizations. When your children get older, allow them to share their thoughts on causes and organizations they care about, making where you give a family decision.

What is a community foundation?

What’s in a name? A lot at the Christian Community Foundation! If you’re a part of our family of donors, you are likely familiar with the meaning of our name. However, if you’re new, you may be asking yourself, “What is a community foundation?” Simply put, a community foundation is an organization that acts as a conduit for giving, but let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about community foundations and the benefits they offer their givers.

A tax-exempt nonprofit organization

When you give through your donor-advised fund at a community foundation, you are immediately eligible for a tax deduction. Once the funds are in your account, it stays there until you decide to give it away. Not only are you helping others in your community, but you’re benefiting too!

Benefits a specific geographic area

Typically, community foundations focus on giving within the community surrounding the organization. The beauty of CCF is that you can give to your community and/or any other charitable organization throughout the world so long as the organization does not stand against Christian values. Another benefit of CCF is the Hope for Memphis Fund. This fund’s mission is to create more sustainable and effective Christian ministries and leaders who are seeking citywide transformation. The recipients of this fund must be located within the Mid- South. As a CCF family member, the surplus funds earned from your donor-advised fund are added to the Hope for Memphis Fund – meaning you’re contributing to the goodness that is spread thanks to the Fund!

Additional resources

Community foundations offer resources to assist its donors in executing their giving strategies. Staff members assist you in creating your giving strategy, developing a donation plan that’s best for you and your family, and work with you to execute it efficiently and strategically. As a member of CCF, we’re a call away if you ever need anything or have questions. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at 901-682-6201.

If you’re looking to embark on a giving journey, we’re here to help. We love adding to our growing giving family and spreading the Gospel through CCF and its mission.

Recovering generosity when giving feels stale

Patterns, habits and rituals can be soothing and centering. In our faith practices, many of these rituals help us focus and quiet our busy minds. From daily time allotted for prayer to communion liturgies, repetitive actions can be great reminders of what’s most important. Through these habits, we develop discipline and reverence for the practice.

But sometimes repetition can make things feel stale or even uninspiring. We’ve all asked our spouse, “Can we please try somewhere new?” when trying to decide where to eat on a Friday night. If we’re not careful, doing things repetitively can cause us to lose sight of their inherent purpose or value. In this example, going out on a Friday night isn’t really about the food – it’s about spending time with your loved ones. But in our quest for something new and exciting, we’ve lost our focus. 

It’s easy for giving to become passive and stale, especially when all of our financial decisions are carefully planned in advance. With recurring online giving, you may not even realize that your tithe goes out each month, or that you’ve been faithfully donating to a nonprofit you love for the last five years. Simply, it is incredibly easy to lose the joy of giving. 

How can you recapture that joy if your giving has become blasé? At the Christian Community Foundation, we believe that you can simultaneously be a strategic AND joyful giver. Here are recommendations we hope will help you recover the joy of generosity. 

Regularly review your giving portfolio

When was the last time you reviewed your charitable gifts? It’s so easy to give month after month without really understanding where your gifts are going. When you log into your donor-advised fund account through Donor Central, you can see where your grant requests are going and how frequently they are disbursed. Taking a more active role – maybe even pausing recurring gifts and instead setting a family meeting to choose your gifts each month – can make your giving experience much more active.  

Extend your idea of generosity beyond financial gifts

In addition to regular donations from your donor-advised fund, are you praying for the organizations you support regularly? Add them to your family’s prayer list and talk about the work that they do actively. Seek opportunities to volunteer, send letters of encouragement to their staffs or simply find ways to engage with these organizations on social media. Open and read their annual report when it arrives in your mailbox each February, and see the impact that your donation had on the community. By giving of your time, prayer and efforts, you can add context to your giving that may have been missing previously. 

Engage your loved ones

Want to support nonprofits and set an example for your loved ones? Involve friends and family in your giving! Set aside money each month that you want to disburse from your donor-advised fund, but don’t designate it for any specific organization. Instead, each month connect with a family member or loved one and ask them what nonprofit organization is near to their heart. Then, make a donation from your fund in their honor. This warms the hearts of the people you care about while also expanding your giving horizons. You may learn about new organizations you’ve never heard of before!

How to build your stewardship philosophy

If you’ve read our previous blog posts, you know that the Christian Community Foundation is built upon Biblical Stewardship. Simply put, we believe that all of our resources on Earth belong to God, and that He has entrusted them to us with a responsibility to use them in ways that furthers His Kingdom.

If you grasp that concept, that’s step one! But how exactly do you know what efforts here are furthering God’s Kingdom? And once you make that determination, how do you decide where to invest your resources? There are seemingly innumerable churches, ministries and nonprofits operating around the globe. Choosing where you should give can seem overwhelming. 

When we have too many options, we struggle to make a decision. In our quest to give with a gracious heart, agonizing over where to give can transform our giving from joyfilled to stressful. That’s where a personal stewardship philosophy comes in. 

To CCF, a personal or family stewardship philosophy helps guide your giving efforts. It’s the framework that you use to determine the organizations and missions you support. It could refine your giving to focus on organizations that support children’s causes, or organizations practicing global missions. Every family or person’s stewardship philosophy can be unique and varied! Don’t think of your stewardship philosophy as limiting parameters, but rather a pair of contact lenses that helps you focus and make decisive giving decisions. 

How do you develop your stewardship philosophy? This can be a fun and enlightening process for every giver! We have a few recommendations to help you get started. 

Start in prayer and worship

Creating a stewardship philosophy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, careful consideration, reflection and prayer. Whether you’re creating a personal philosophy or a guiding path for your family, spend time in prayer and worship as you consider ways you can make an impact for God through giving. 

Explore your passions

We believe that God gives each of us unique gifts and interests. Whether your family loves sports, wants to feed the hungry, believes in the healing power of art or desires to care for the world’s orphans, you can use those passions to find organizations that share your heart. Incorporating our natural interests into our stewardship philosophy can be incredibly impactful and inspire more giving! 

Connect with trusted givers

We encourage every member of our family of givers to actively research and engage with organizations they support. But knowing where to start can be a challenge. Seek out the guidance of trusted people in your faith community. Talk with them about their giving – they can oftentimes offer a list of organizations or ministries they’re passionate about! Even if your philosophy leads you in a different direction, you’re learning more about the opportunities that exist. 

Consider volunteering

If you’re having trouble defining your giving philosophy, consider volunteering. Oftentimes, when we can see and use our hands to support organizations, we better understand the work that they do. This may help provide clarity and understanding that could refine your stewardship philosophy! And, you don’t have to stop volunteering once you decide to give – we strongly encourage our family of givers to give not only financially, but also of their time and talents!