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The Giving Institute – Gurin Forum 2015

The Future of Donor-Advised Funds

How Can Charities Adapt to Donor’s Shifting Giving Behaviors?

The Giving Institute held its Autumn Meetings November 11-13 in Chicago. Jeffrey Byrne, President + CEO, is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of The Giving Institute, and also serves on the Giving USA Foundation Board. Jeffrey and fellow Giving Institute members planned and organized special events and programming around a very special time in the Institute’s history, The Giving Institute’s 80th Anniversary and the 60th Anniversary of the Giving USA Foundation.

The Panelists (Left to right) Shawn Donnelley, Matt Nash, Ray Madoff, Jamie Phillippe, Keith Curtis, Stacy Palmer. At the podium: Una Osili

The Panelists (Left to right) Shawn Donnelley, Matt Nash, Ray Madoff, Jamie Phillippe, Keith Curtis, Stacy Palmer. At the podium: Una Osili

Committed to providing valuable tools and resources to help enhance the nonprofit sector, The Giving Institute brings attention to timely issues through The Gurin Forum. This year’s Gurin Forum, The Future of Donor-Advised Funds, was the capstone event of the member meetings in Chicago. The Forum explored the latest research on donor-advised funds,  why donors are choosing this giving vehicle, how charities can adapt to donors’ shifting giving behaviors and what is on the horizon for this increasingly popular giving tool.

This engaging and interactive presentation was also broadcast live, courtesy of Peach New Media. A lively and diverse panel discussed the landscape, benefits, criticisms and concerns of donor-advised funds, and how charities can adapt to donors’ shifting giving behaviors.

Panelists included:

  • Keith Curtis, Chair, Giving USA Foundation and President & CEO of The Curtis Group
  • Shawn Donnelley, Donor-Advised Fundholder, Chicago Community Trust Board Member
  • Ray Madoff, Law Professor at Boston College and public policy expert
  • Matt Nash, Senior Vice President of Donor Engagement, Fidelity Charitable
  • Una Osili, PhD, Director of Research, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University
  • Stacy Palmer, Editor, The Chronicle of Philanthropy (moderator)
  • Jamie Phillippe, VP of Development and Donor Relations, Chicago Community Trust

There are certainly clear advantages to using donor-advised funds:

  • Flexibility
  • Convenience
  • Investment growth
  • Tax benefits
  • Enabling strategic charitable giving and financial planning

There are also several emerging and yet unanswered questions:

  • Costs to society in tax revenue
  • Oversight and payout requirements
  • Treatment of sponsoring organizations versus community foundations
  • The overall impact on donors, nonprofits and other forms of giving
  • How nonprofits should position themselves to work with and benefit from this giving vehicle

More research, analysis and discussion are needed. All the players involved — scholars, practitioners, policymakers, donors and nonprofits — must maintain their dialogue to address the complex issues around donor-advised funds, without losing sight of meeting the needs of those served by the nonprofit sector.

About The Gurin Forum and The Giving Institute

The Gurin Forum was designed to stimulate dialogue, debate, research and education and to honor Maurice Gilbert Gurin, a foremost leader and thinker who impacted the evolution of philanthropy. Funding for the Gurin Forum is made possible through an endowment created primarily through the generosity of Mr. Gurin. Mr. Gurin is a past chair of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel, now known as The Giving Institute, and one of the original incorporators of the American Association of Fundraising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy, now known as Giving USA Foundation.

The Giving Institute is designed to help elevate the fundraising consulting and nonprofit services industry and enhance the philanthropic sector. JB+A is the only Kansas City firm to be accepted to The Giving Institute and has been a member since 2005.

For more information about The Giving Institute, visit

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