$100M Donation Case Opens Window on Donor-Advised Funds

The National Philanthropic Trust calls donor-advised funds the most popular method of charitable giving—nearly a half-million accounts hold $110 billion in assets. Now a court fight between a wealthy family and a fund to which they donated stock may offer a look into how these funds work. Universities and community foundations run their own charitable funds, but big-name investment managers like JP Morgan, Vanguard, and Fidelity operate them, too. They often convert complex donations—art, stock, or cryptocurrency, for example—into cash that can be given to charities over a period of years, often with tax advantages. The Fairbairns sued Fidelity Charitable, saying the fund violated contract law by promising a sophisticated liquidation and then selling their donated stock too quickly. That caused the value of the stock to plunge, lowering the value of their $100 million donation and the tax deduction they had hoped to receive along with it. Ohio State University professor Brian Mittendorf has been researching donor-advised funds. He spoke with Bloomberg Tax reporter Aysha Bagchi about the Fairbairn case and the tax and policy ramifications of these funds. Listen and subscribe to Talking Tax from your mobile device: Via Apple Podcasts | Via Stitcher | Via Overcast | Via Spotify  

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