It’s December, and many of us are making our year-end gifts to charity. We’re talking through these decisions with our families, and whether we’re giving to an organization that supports the arts or fights climate change, we’re making gifts that represent our values, our communities, our wishes for the world around us and what we hope for in the coming year.
Earlier this year I left my job as the executive director of an advocacy organization and joined the team at Amalgamated Charitable Foundation as Director of Hate is Not Charitable. In making that shift - from asking for and receiving donations on behalf of my organization to helping facilitate others’ gifts in support of many great causes - I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate and consider the reasons why people donate and the mechanisms by which they choose to do it.
This year, more than a million people will make charitable gifts through donor advised funds, also known as DAFs. Donors who give through their DAFs receive tax advantages and the ability to make grants anonymously, so it’s no wonder that they’re the fastest-growing form of philanthropy. And just as so many of us will think hard about how the organizations we give to match up with our values, we should be doing the same for the institutions sponsoring our DAFs, whether small community foundations or big private financial institutions. As you direct your money to the organizations you hope will usher in the world you want to see, shouldn’t you do your giving through an institution whose values are aligned as well?
The benefits conveyed by DAF giving - tax incentives and anonymity - are made possible because of the shared belief that charity promotes the public good. But this year, just as in past years, millions of dollars will flow through donor advised funds to groups dedicated to public harm. Over just a few years, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and white nationalist groups received more than $11 million though donor advised funds managed by Donors Trust, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund, and Vanguard Charitable. At the Amalgamated Foundation, we don’t believe that DAF sponsors aligned with the public good should facilitate the flow of resources to groups intent on undermining it. We believe that when it comes to using your charitable giving to express your values, who holds your money is just as important as who you donate it to. If you’re giving to the causes aligned with your values, you should be giving through institutions that are invested as you are in the impact your gift makes in the world.
In 2019, Amalgamated Charitable Foundation launched Hate Is Not Charitable, a campaign that now includes more than 90 foundations, donor networks, and DAF providers that collectively represent more that a billion dollars in assets. That list is growing, and this year we’ll be expanding the campaign, releasing new research, and working with our donors and networks to grow a movement that’s calling on other DAF sponsors to proactively adopt policies to stem the flow of resources to groups that promote hatred.
As you make your year-end donations, the way you give is as important as who you give to. As you consider where your money will go, consider how it will get there and ask yourself if you want your family’s giving mingled with gifts that promote hate. If you’re already a DAF holder, find out if your foundation or institution has already joined the campaign. And learn more about the Hate Is Not Charitable campaign and the world we’ll build together in 2023.