The Elaine and Michelle Elliot Foundation

Mom gets charity letters in the mail every day. Now, instead of her just writing checks, she marks the mail "yes" or "no". At the end of the month we get together to decide which ones are really yes, based on the money in her donor advised fund account. Then we go online and make our gifts. ICA takes care of the rest. It's very reassuring.

Acme Advertising Employees Giving Fund

We have a company donor advised fund through ICA, and we fund it with a combination of corporate and employee gifts. Then we have an employee-elected committee decide on gift nominations. ICA’s gift transmittal letter lets the recipient charities know their gifts come courtesy of our company and our employees. It’s a great morale builder and team building experience for our employees and great PR for our company. And there’s virtually no administrative burden for us.

The Johnson Family Giving Fund

Each birthday, the whole family gets together for Sunday dinner. Over the table we decide what charities our family will recommend from our family donor advised fund. It helps keep our family close, and it teaches the little ones lessons in giving.

What are Donor Advised Funds?

ICA Donor Advised Funds are a personal, private, organized, and direct way to give. Think of your fund as an on-demand, online "charitable checking account," but without the paper (and without the paperwork).

ICA Donor Advised Funds allow a contributor to make a tax-deductible gift to a charitable organization and then recommend how the gift shall be used, usually as a distribution to another charity or charitable program. Thus, the donor receives almost all of the advantages of having his or her own private charitable foundation (that is, the ability to centralize giving in one place, and to time giving to maximize tax benefits without being rushed to recommend the gift beneficiaries) without the ongoing expense, complexity, and privacy-invading reporting requirements associated with private foundations.

In the past few years the donor advised fund has become a well-recognized giving vehicle offered by many local community foundations and by investment firms. Unfortunately, most of these funds require minimum opening deposits of as much as $10,000 or more, with high annual minimum recurring deposit requirements and fees. ICA’s funds have a minimum activation amount of only $250 and no requirement for additional contributions.

How It Works

You give your fund a name, register it online at the ICA web site, and activate it with a contribution of $250 or more by online credit card transaction, or gift of securities. You may make additional contributions at any time.

Once your fund is activated, you may nominate gifts from it at any time, simply by logging in to the Donor Advised Fund section of the ICA web site, and following the instructions on screen. In addition to nominating a gift recipient, you may also send a message or special instructions to the charity, such as nominating the gift in someone's memory or for a special campaign.

When you make a deposit in your DAF account, you are technically making a charitable contribution to ICA. Because ICA is a tax-exempt charitable organization, your gift is tax-deductible at the time you make it. You do not have to wait until you make a subsequent distribution nomination for the deduction to be available. For example, you can make a gift deposit in December in time for this year’s tax deduction but wait until June to make a nomination. It also means, however, that because you have made a gift to ICA, ICA has the legal ownership of the funds and complete discretion over their use. Your nominations are therefore subject to ICA’s policies and procedures and IRS rules and regulations for donor advised funds. See "The Rules" below.

When you make a nominated distribution from your DAF account ICA performs a records check to insure the grantee is an organization to which tax-deductible gifts may be made and that the nomination is in compliance with ICA and IRS policies. If so, ICA then transmits the distribution to the organization along with a cover letter notifying the organization of the gift in the name of your fund, and including any special message or instructions you wish to be forwarded.

You make your nominations and instructions to ICA online, and your account history is maintained online in a password protected file. ICA emails you a receipt for tax purposes when you make a gift deposit, and your account history is also printable for tax documentation.

Any gift deposit you make to your donor advised fund is tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

The Rules

Distributions from your fund must be in conformance with U.S. tax laws and IRS regulations regarding charitable giving and donor-advised gift funds, and are subject to ICA policies and oversight. These are the general rules:

1. Deposits may be made by check, credit card, or securities contributions. If you use a Visa, MasterCard or Discover card 100% of the deposit amount will be applied to your DAF. If you use an American Express card, there will be a 2.25% fee deducted from the deposit amount.

2. Generally, you may nominate any charity, church, or school to which tax deductible gifts may be lawfully made. However, ICA will not accept nominations for organizations that, in ICA’s judgement, promote hate, discrimination, pornography, or other non-eleemosynary activities.

3. If the nominated organization is a public benefit charity, it has to be registered with the IRS. You can't give to a foreign charity or one not registered with the IRS.

4. You can't give in a way that confers a benefit to you or your family. For example, you can't nominate a gift to your child's school that goes to pay your child's tuition. But you can nominate a gift to fund scholarships for deserving students selected by the school.

5. You must make nominations for at least five percent of your account balance in any one year. If you do not make nominations in the current year totaling at least 5% of your account balance on December 31st of the PREVIOUS year, the difference between your nominations during the current year and 5% of your balance as of December 31st of the previous year will automatically be deducted from your account and designated as a nomination to Independent Charities of America.

6. If an individual donor advised fund account has dropped below a $250 balance AND, in addition, there has been no activity in that account (i.e. no additional contribution to the account or no nomination from the account) for one year, then the account balance will be remitted to ICA for charitable distribution at the end of that year.)

Private, Confidential Giving
Your nominations are confidential. Donor advised funds have no public reporting requirement. ICA does not share, sell, or otherwise release any donor information except that which the donor has released to a nominated charity, church, or school. You may remain anonymous if you wish.

Make Gifts at Any Time
As funds are deposited in your foundation account, you may make gift nominations at any time.
Gifts Are Direct, in Your Name
Gifts are sent in your fund's name directly to the charities.

All Administration Is Done For You
All the necessary record-keeping is provided for you. You can review your DAF account status at any time. At the end of the year you can print an annual statement for income tax documentation.