Balancing fund growth and grants

Once givers learn that they can invest in a donor-advised fund and grow their capacity for charitable grants tax-free, opening a donor-advised fund is easy. Many donors start thinking about new ways to expand their giving, maximize their giving output, and how much money they want to pour into their fund each year. It’s an exciting process to watch as a fund administrator. But as the process evolves, a saving-focused mindset can kick in. Donors start to consider how they can continue growing the value of their donor-advised fund account while also sending out grants. It makes sense – as we often desire for our investment accounts to grow rather than diminish. But this mindset speaks to the importance of having conversations about donor-advised funds, strategic giving and the ultimate goal of using this financial tool. Here are some things to consider if this thought has crossed your mind. 

Get strategic with your investments and grants.

If you’re looking to grow your donor-advised fund account and continue giving grants, one thing you can do is strategically consider how you plan to use your fund. You might set a goal that looks something like this: I want to be more generous every year. Last year, I invested $100 into my donor-advised fund account and granted $50 to a nonprofit. This year, I will invest $150 in my donor-advised fund account and will grant $100. In this scenario, you’re increasing the amount of money in your donor-advised fund overall AND are granting out more than you did the year before. 

Consider opening two funds for long- and short-term giving goals.

Maybe you want to grow your donor-advised fund so you can make a large investment when the time is right. Building up enough funds for a major gift can take a while, and it’s best to let the money grow tax-free over time than to continually pull from it to make grants. Get strategic with your plan and create two donor-advised funds – one for your long-term gifting goal and the other for short-term or spontaneous gifts. Then you can leave one account untouched to grow until you’re ready for your large gift while using the other one to make grants throughout the year. 

Shift your mindset – giving doesn’t have to be about growth. 

Maybe growing your fund is important for you right now. Like the scenario we mentioned earlier, you might be planning to make a large gift that you need to build up funds for. But if that isn’t your scenario, we encourage you to pray about your giving plan and consider whether or not you need to grow your donor-advised fund account. Now might be a season of giving freely – investing in nonprofits who need support even if that reduces your DAF balance. There may come a season in the future when building your fund up again makes sense, but there is nothing wrong with having your balance decrease as you give according to the calling God puts on your heart. 

Refresh your giving plan in 2023

January marks the start of a new year, and new years tend to lead to new habits and resolutions. Whether you’re considering making changes to your personal or professional life in 2023, it’s important to have a plan. At Christian Community Foundation, we want to encourage you to refresh your giving strategy this year. Here are five steps you can take to start your giving out on the right foot.

One: Review your last three years of giving and identify any trends.

Looking back at your giving over the course of a few years will help you determine where the majority of charitable giving is going. If you are giving to several organizations and causes, it will also help you determine the type of causes you support. Lastly, looking back at your giving will help you find any discrepancies – like if your charitable giving was much greater in one year than all the rest. Identifying trends will help you better determine where your money has gone and where you want it to go in the future. 

Two: Make sure your budget is up to date and consider how much you want to give to charity.

Your finances will fluctuate from month to month and year to year. Whether you’re re-evaluating your giving plan or not, looking at your budget for 2023 is a fantastic way to start a new year. When planning out your budget for the year, we encourage you to add giving as a line item. Pray with your family about how much you want to give away in the year. That number will be unique to each family and the year, but the focus should be on overall generosity and not the amount of money you decide to give away. 

Three: Meet with your trusted financial advisor and develop a plan.

When coming up with the best plan to fit your financial goals and needs, meeting with a trusted professional – like a financial advisor – is a smart step. Financial advisors have a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the financial field. They can combine what they know with your specific financial situation to develop the perfect plan for you. Financial and giving plans are specific to the individual, so using a trusted financial advisor will help you know exactly what you can and cannot do. 

Four: Research nonprofit organizations to find the right fit for you.

The next step to revamping your giving strategy would be to research nonprofits to find the right fit for you. You might be ready to give but can’t decide how to divide your gifts. That’s where the Christian Community Foundation comes in. You can invest all of your planned gifts in a donor-advised fund, then dispurse them to nonprofits when you’re ready. We can help you transform Memphis, the Mid-South and beyond in ways that further the kingdom of God through both faith and action. 

Five: Determine how much you want to grant your donor-advised fund – either all at once or over time.

Donor-advised funds give charitable givers a flexible, easy way to give back to their community. These funds basically function as your own personal foundation, but it’s a lot less expensive. You determine how much you want to give, and you also get to decide how long the fund is active. All of the money can be given at once in a large lump sum, or it can be dispersed over a certain amount of time. The choice is yours. Donor-advised funds also give you the power to create a legacy and continue your charitable giving into your retirement years. 

If you’re looking to re-evaluate your giving plan in the new year, consider giving Christian Community Foundation a call. Our financial advisors are here to help you determine the perfect plan for you. As an added bonus, we’re local, which means that we have all the knowledge of the big organizations with the specifics of the city of Memphis. We hope to see you soon!

Leaving your legacy

Are there charities and causes in your life that hold a special place in your heart? You can ensure that your support remains after you pass. 

A posthumous giving plan can be an important part in your estate planning process. Also known as a legacy plan, this tool allows you to continue your charitable giving after your death. While you might not be here anymore, your name and giving will continue on.

What is a legacy plan?

A legacy plan is a way to give back after your death. These funds allow for the creation of a donor-advised fund at a later date – when your will, trust and/or other estate planning documents officially take effect. These funds can be set to be used for a certain amount of time, or they can continue on indefinitely. 

If your legacy fund is established through your will, your estate will receive a tax deduction. You can also contribute to your legacy fund while you’re still living. Tax deductions will be included at the time of those donations, too. Legacy funds are great because you can include them with estate planning but work directly with the foundation to make changes in giving without having to go back and make changes to your will or trust. 

How can you set up a legacy fund with CCF?

Legacy funds can be set up with Christian Community Foundation in life and after death. To get started, you’ll enter into a legacy fund establishment agreement, which can be found on our website. This agreement allows donors to transfer their donor-advised funds into legacy funds after death. It also lets CCF know if there are any assets in someone’s estate planning coming their way for the purpose of setting up a legacy fund. 

When assets are transferred to CCF, they are subject to the bylaws that currently govern the organization. Donors are not allowed to make any restrictions on the Foundation’s use of the funds. Donors can make recommendations for how the funds are to be spent. They can create a mission statement, assign beneficiaries, appoint fund advisors, establish the lifespan of the fund, make annual grants and establish investment allocations. The minimum amount required to start a legacy fund with CFF is $100,000. If the fund falls below that number, it will be distributed to the established assigned beneficiaries. 

A donor-advised fund makes giving simple in life and in death. Getting started in the process is easy. Visit our website or give us a call today to start working on your giving plan.

One-time or recurring disbursements – what helps nonprofits most?

If you give through the Christian Community Foundation, it’s likely that your goal is to be strategic and impactful with the grants you request out of your donor-advised fund. This requires a level of planning that many families and individuals typically don’t remember or prioritize as part of their giving. So…how do you decide which giving method is best for you and/or the grantees of your choice. Is it more helpful to make one large annual contribution? Are recurring gifts actually helpful? Here are things to consider when creating a grant disbursement plan for your donor-advised fund.

About recurring gifts

Increasingly, nonprofits are developing multiple tracks for givers to follow. Upon submitting an online gift, many donors are prompted to consider if they’d like to make this gift monthly, becoming a participant in a subscription-like donation model. You might wonder if this is merely a cash grab, an opportunity to capture the generosity of donors who might make an errant click that starts them on an ongoing giving journey they may not realize they’re on for several months. But in reality, recurring donations can play an important role in nonprofit planning and management AND can be helpful to donors whose budget requires smaller, more frequent donations.

Donors who submit monthly recurring grants (via donor central) can possibly enable nonprofits to make important purchasing and investment decisions for the future because they can estimate how much money will come to them through promised donations. Of course, the donor can withdraw from the program at any time, so the estimation is still just a best guess.

One time or recurring, which is right for me?

So, should you give larger, one-time gifts or should you space out your donations throughout the year as part of an ongoing, recurring donation? Which is more impactful? The truth is that both are impactful and can benefit the organization in which you are investing and the answer may depend upon the organization and timing. For example, if an organization you love is running a limited-time capital campaign to replace its roof, a one-time donation can help them reach its goal better than a recurring monthly donation could. If that same nonprofit is launching a new program that will run into perpetuity, recurring donations can help meet programmatic needs for months or years to come.

How do I do it?

If you’re requesting a grant through CCF, both opportunities are available to you. Through Donor Central, you can request a one-time grant from your phone, tablet or computer at any time. You can also set up a recurring donation from your fund, which will send the nonprofit of your choosing a check at a cadence you determine. The beauty of a donor-advised fund is that the way you disburse grants really doesn’t matter. You receive the tax benefit upon investment into your DAF, not when you request a grant.

What else should I know?

One-time and recurring gifts to a nonprofit will come to them in the form of a check from the Christian Community Foundation with your name on it (unless you choose to remain anonymous). This means that you won’t be enrolled in recurring monthly donation programs the organization has unless you discuss it with the nonprofit you invest in before you start making recurring donations.

It’s not about where you give, but how you give

We’re in the business of strategic, generous and impactful giving. We work with our donors to develop giving plans that meet their needs and allow them to create the most impact possible with the money they can give. Using those three words, we drive emphasis on the process of giving. We don’t mention anything about where our donors grant funds. We purposefully focus on the how.

Understandably, we get a lot of questions around where people can or can’t donate. It makes sense – blessing an organization with a gift is undoubtedly the most exciting part of a person’s giving journey. Most often, we’re asked if giving through CCF is limited to Christian ministries. And our answer is clear: no!

While we don’t disclose the organizations to which our donors give, we can share that our donors support thousands of nonprofits that meet people’s needs across the globe. Many of these organizations are Christian ministries, but not all of them are. As long as an organization has a 501(c)(3) status and does not operate against Christian values, our donors can give to it. 

When we say that we focus on the how, we mean it. As a foundation, we don’t provide recommendations on where to give, even when asked. We believe that giving should be a movement of the heart, a process of discovery that each giver should go through with their family and through their own relationship with Jesus Christ. If the Lord leads you to give to an organization, and you and your family prayerfully consider that gift, then we encourage you to request the grant. 

Our founders recognized that extending the love of Christ into our community would often happen by supporting Christian organizations, but not always. That’s why you’ll see Common Grace gifts mentioned throughout our founding language. Common Grace gifts are given to nonprofit organizations that meet the foundational human needs of our neighbors. These organizations do lifesaving work, providing food, shelter, companionship, medical care and education to people who need it. While Common Grace gifts don’t go to Christian organizations, they do go to organizations that are meeting people’s human needs, which mirrors an example set by Jesus throughout the Bible. 

So, when you ask us about where to give, we won’t give you a list of organizations. Instead, we’ll encourage you to consider how you can give strategically, generously and impactfully wherever God leads you. If you’d like help getting started on your giving journey, or learning how to put these three words into practice, give us a call at (901) 682-6201.

Three giving resolutions to enact in 2022

Oftentimes resolutions are inward facing. Focusing on fitness, committing to a yearly devotional or investing in healthy eating are good resolutions to keep your body and spirit well. But an outward facing goal, like being more generous, can not only be good for the community around you but can also be good for your soul. 

At the Christian Community Foundation, we encourage faith-driven givers to be strategic, impactful and generous with their giving. To do so, we have three simple resolutions to work into your 2022 plans. 

Create a plan for giving.

Did you know that grant requests increase exponentially in November and December? At the end of the year, many people try to give away as much money as possible to meet needs, bless people during the holidays or wrap up their tax planning. Giving in this fashion can be stressful, ad hoc, and ultimately leads people to give less than they might otherwise be able to. 

When you create a plan for your annual giving, you’ll know exactly how much you can give away. By making an annual contribution to a donor-advised fund, you get a better look at what your tax benefit will be. Then you can dole out funds as it makes sense throughout the year. A strategic giving plan can simplify your plans and increase your giving potential. 

Seek opportunities to learn more about where you choose to give.

It’s one thing to make an investment in a nonprofit. It’s another thing to learn about the people you’re supporting. When you make an investment of time alongside your financial gift, you’ll be amazed at what the Lord can do in your heart. As you build connections with nonprofit organizations and the people they serve, the more generous you might become! Becoming an invested giver is a great way to increase your generosity.

Multiply your gifts through prayer.

One sure-fire way to multiply your gifts is to accompany them with prayer. Once you’ve learned about the organizations you’re supporting, you can lift up specific prayer requests. As you continue to walk alongside the organization, you’ll see the power of your gifts and your prayer in action. That’s one way to be an impactful giver! 

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 to discuss. We’re here for you!

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.

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.

What are the best ways to invest in your donor-advised fund?

When you choose to open a donor-advised fund, you’re making a conscious decision to dedicate some of your assets to generosity. It’s an exciting path to embark upon! But there are a lot of questions that come along with opening a DAF. Most commonly, what fund sources can be used to build a DAF?

CCF recommends that you consult with your personal financial advisor before making any decisions related to your assets. However, we wanted to list common fund sources that many of our donors use to build their funds. Talk with your financial advisor about these options. 

Liquid assets

Many donors choose to populate their DAF with liquid assets. This is one of the easiest ways to start or add to your account. All you have to do is give our office a call and send the check in the mail. From there, we’ll process your request and quickly add the funds to your account. It’s that simple! 

Appreciated stocks

If you’ve seen gains in your stock portfolio, you can invest those tax-free in your donor-advised fund. It’s also a simple process. Talk with your personal financial advisor and let them know which stocks you’d like to send to your donor-advised fund. Then, call our office to let us know about the upcoming sale, noting the type of stock and number of shares we should anticipate. This will help us direct the proceeds of the sale to your account. 


While property donations are less common, we have donors who like to give in this way. If you have property you’d like to invest in your DAF, talk with your personal financial advisor then give us a call. We can talk with you about the process and how to proceed. 

Ultimately, choosing to give is an excellent decision, no matter the type of assets you choose to donate. If you want to make an impact through giving, creating a donor-advised fund is a great way to get started. We’d be honored to help you as you consider your giving options. To connect with the Christian Community Foundation, you can call our office at (901) 682-6201.