Donor Advised Funds: Commercial Banks vs. Local Experts

If you have had the opportunity to become more strategic in your philanthropy, chances are you have considered a donor advised fund, or a DAF. DAFs are philanthropic funds opened with an initial donation, an intention for the fund, and a name. DAFs allow fundholders to advise on the grants from the fund over a period of time, based on your philanthropic goals. DAF fundholders also receive tax benefits. 

In the past, donor advised funds were primarily opened and held at the community foundation of a donor’s first or second home residence. Community foundations can be found all across the country, built by many different donors who care about and want to preserve their community for many generations to come. 

Commercial banks began offering their clients the opportunity to open DAFs as well.  While banks capable of offering DAFs are normally large and corporate, community foundations like ours are deeply embedded in the community we serve. We also have the ability to think and act across longer time horizons as, more often than not, our permanence is guaranteed by the permanently endowed funds we have been entrusted to manage. 

This gives community foundations several advantages as partners in your philanthropy:

  • We have a deep expertise about the community and region we serve
  • We have long standing relationships with our nonprofits and community partners
  • We work with other donors and leverage your resources with theirs to have a bigger impact
  • We think strategically with a bird’s eye view of our region 
  • We have staff members who are fully dedicated to supporting our grantmaking and nonprofit programming
  • We maintain the flexibility to support all your philanthropic goals, inside and outside of our geography
  • Our mission is to make our region better, not to make money

So why do donors choose to open DAFs at commercial banks? Most often it is because commercial banks may either waive or offer a minimal fee to manage your charitable dollars while they make money managing your other assets. 

But community foundations are more than institutions to place and disburse money. Our very purpose is to serve our communities now and for many generations to come. We deeply care about the place that you love. And we are equipped with the professional expertise and longstanding relationships in our region that make it possible to effect greater change than any one person can make alone.

That means that we always have our finger on the pulse of our community to identify pressing needs. It means we are connecting with community leaders and experts in every field to think strategically and creatively about solutions. It means when our nonprofits talk, we listen. When our community speaks, we’re holding up the microphone. 

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s average fee is 1.5% depending on fund assets. Those fees pay for the staff time and software required to manage your funds and connect your charitable interests with aligned investment opportunities. That 1.5% remains a charitable investment in the place you love and contributes to a sustainable economy by contributing to living wages for local community members.

At TTCF, we understand that every person must find the charitable path that suits their personal giving styles. That’s why we offer many types of funds and ways to give – whether that means estate planning, one time gifts to favorite nonprofits, or leveraging your resources with those of other donors. 

We would love to set up a time to talk about how we can help you meet your philanthropic goals. Please call Stacy Caldwell, our CEO, at 530.587.1776 to set up a time to chat. You can also reach her by emailing