My favorite feature of donor-advised funds is the ability to easily donate appreciated stock to maximize tax-efficiency. My second-favorite feature has become the ability to donate anonymously.

When I was starting out and figuring out how and where I wanted to give back, I used to donate smaller amounts to a lot of different places. Schools, hospitals, food banks, clean water access, humane societies, libraries, malaria nets, public radio/television, and so on. Little did I know that these places would keep sending me snail mail for years and years, even well after I stopped donating to them. So much junk mail. I grew so frustrated watching them waste a huge portion of my donation on all these repeated mailings (and I’m pretty sure they sold my name to other charities). I couldn’t find any easy way to opt out.

With my Fidelity Charitable DAF, you can choose to provide:

  • Full name and address.
  • Giving Account name only. Be careful, if you name it “Keanu Reeves Giving Fund”, that won’t exactly be fully anonymous.
  • Anonymously. No personal information will be given, not even the Giving Account name. They will only know it came from Fidelity Charitable.

Other DAFs will have different specific settings, but every one that I’ve seen does have a fully anonymous option. While I’ve seen the “no recognition” option while giving directly, you usually have to provide a name and credit card information with billing address.

I can confirm that after giving to multiple new charities using the “anonymous” option, I have received no additional solicitations for more money.

Upon further research, this anonymous option is apparently not that popular. According to Fidelity Charitable and Philanthropy Roundtable, over 90% of donors do choose to include some level of information about themselves along with the donation. In some cases, I suppose receiving some level of recognition is nice, but it’s not like I’m donating enough to get my name on a building.

Well, at least there are some others like myself, who aren’t donating anonymously to hide something nefarious, but I’m guessing they also just want some peace and less paper waste.

The top five grant-receiving organizations of anonymous gifts were Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, Feeding America, American Red Cross and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Most Americans would hardly find any of these groups–which feed the poor, provide emergency help following natural disasters and heal the sick both here and abroad–particularly partisan or extreme.

Fun fact: Although your donor-advised fund is not a Foundation or Trust for legal and/or tax purposes, they are pretty flexible on how you can name it. Fidelity will allow you to name it “My Money Blog Foundation” or “The My Money Blog Philanthropic Trust”, and that’s what the receiving charity will see if you choose.

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Donor-Advised Funds Allow Private, Anonymous Donations from My Money Blog.


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