Donor Advised Funds are Strengthening Family Ties

A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is like a charitable investment account that is set up for the sole purpose of supporting charities. When a donor contributes to a DAF, they receive an immediate tax deduction. We call this Tax-Smart Giving.

But did you know there are other benefits to having a donor advised fund? More and more, here at United Way, we see families using their DAF to spark conversations about the importance of charitable giving. Often, donors talk about wanting to raise charitable children. Using a DAF can be a great way to start.

Using a DAF to teach children about charitable giving

Children who grow up in homes where they see charitable giving demonstrated by a parent or grandparent are more likely to give as adults. However, just seeing it modeled doesn’t necessarily connect them to the causes and passions you value. Children learn by doing. Establishing a DAF offers a unique opportunity to involve children in the process of giving. You can create a DAF and list your children as co-trustees. Some families even make it a part of their holiday traditions.

How actions can strengthen the impact of giving

Whether you establish a new DAF for your children or grandchildren or use your existing DAF, you can come together and learn poignant and entertaining family stories about past generations. Adult children often learn new stories they had never heard before about their parents and grandparents. These conversations can also help you share with your loved ones what you want your legacy to be and why.

You can leave the remainder of your DAF to a charity like United Way when you are finished using it. Children and grandchildren for generations can share your legacy with great pride, knowing that you made a difference in their lives and the community.

Additionally, many United Way donors are taking advantage of our Volunteer Center (now in its 90th year serving our region) to find opportunities for themselves and the whole family. Families who volunteer together have the unique experience of working toward a shared goal. You may even learn that your child has a talent or interest you didn’t know about before. Everyone brings something unique to the table and can connect with each other and the community in a new way. Visit United Way’s Volunteer Center to learn more.

It is never too late to engage your family around charitable giving and volunteerism. There are many helpful tools, including board games and decks of giving cards designed to spark meaningful conversations.

To learn more about the value of engaging your family using your donor advised fund, or to talk about family giving strategies, contact Mary McMurtrey, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy, at (314) 539-4065 or


Rodney Humphries
Rodney Humphries

Rodney Humphries is the Communications Specialist for United Way of Greater St. Louis and a proud graduate of Webster University where he developed his passion for writing. In college, he combined his love for writing and sports, serving as the primary sports writer for his school newspaper while also developing his own sports blog. After graduating, he continued his love for writing as he served as a freelance writer for various publications. Rodney continues to be a fan of Webster athletics, you will often see him sitting courtside at a lot of their basketball games.