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Philanthropic Planning: Donor-Advised Funds

Charitable giving through a donor-advised fund (DAF) is an easy and flexible way to make taxadvantaged charitable gifts.

A donor advised fund is a philanthropic vehicle established by the donor at a public charity. Because the contributions are unconditional and irrevocable, gifts to a DAF qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction in the year they are made. The donor has the opportunity to make grant recommendations from the DAF to their choice of charitable causes.

The benefits of a DAF are similar to those of a private foundation, only the setup and management of a DAF are less expensive. However, for families who desire a stronger measure of intergenerational control, a private foundation may be preferred.


The American Gift Fund (AGF)1 is a tax-qualified public charity that receives donations nationwide, including donations to DAFs established within it. The American Gift Fund was established to provide clients with a flexible charitable gifting option and it has been making grants to numerous charities since 1998. RBC Trust Company (Delaware) serves as the trustee for DAFs opened with the American Gift Fund. Through City National Bank’s affiliation with RBC Trust Company (Delaware), AGF is available to City National Bank and City National Rochdale clients who want to establish their own donor-advised fund.

Grants made from a DAF established with the American Gift Fund are very flexible. Clients may select one or more charities, such as a local community foundation or any other qualified 501(c) (3) organization,2 annually as grant recipients based on the recommendations they make to AGF. Clients may also change future grant recommendations. While deciding on grant recommendations, a client's donation can also potentially grow based on their investment preferences, making more money available to support future grantee recommendations. Clients may nominate someone as a successor —often a family member or agent — to make grant recommendations after they die or are incapacitated. If clients prefer, grants made from their DAF funds may be made anonymously.

  • Cash equivalents
  • Publicly traded securities
  • Certain restricted, controlled or lock-up stock
  • Mutual fund shares
  • Private equity and hedge fund shares
  • Real estate
  • Certain complex assets such as privately held C-corporation shares
  • Streamlined setup and account administration
  • Ability to make additional contributions after the initial gift to generate additional tax deductions3
  • Contributions of cash can be deducted up to 60 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income
  • Contributions of marketable securities are valued at fair market value and can be deducted up to 30 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income
  • Any unused tax deduction generated in the first year can be carried forward for an additional five years.4 Please consult a tax professional for further details.

Charitable giving through a DAF provided by the American Gift Fund can help build a family legacy, monitor the impact of giving over time and help maximize federal income tax deductions.

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