New fund offers tax benefits, alternative to foundations for donors

University Park, Pa. -- Alumni and friends who want a simple, cost-effective way to maximize the impact and tax benefits of their philanthropy now have a new option at Penn State. The University recently launched the Pennsylvania State University Charitable Gift Fund, a donor-advised fund (DAF) that allows Penn State supporters to invest their charitable dollars and direct contributions to both the University and other nonprofit organizations.

"Penn Staters are recognized around the country for their commitment to giving back -- not just to the University, but also to countless charities in their communities and around the globe," said Rodney P. Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. "The Pennsylvania State University Charitable Gift Fund was created to help these generous individuals and their families manage and simplify their philanthropic activities. This launch comes after years of research and preparation, and we are proud to be offering our supporters one of the most innovative approaches to giving available today."

Through the Penn State University Charitable Gift Fund (PSUCGF), donors can make gifts of cash, appreciated assets such as securities or real estate, and other resources to a fund that is invested and administered by the University’s partners, investment firm Kaspick & Company and DAF technology and services provider Crown Philanthropic Solutions LLC. An account can be established with a gift of $25,000, and it can be increased with additional contributions that each meet a $1,000 minimum. Donors may choose to have their gifts invested in one of eight options, much like mutual funds, that reflect different growth and income strategies. Gifts can be counted as tax-deductible as soon as they are committed to the fund, allowing donors to manage the impact of significant tax events. Donors may wait to direct their support until they have defined their philanthropic priorities, but at least 50 percent of the distributions from each donor’s account must ultimately come to the University.

"For many alumni and friends, this fund will offer an important alternative to other approaches to charitable giving," said Michael C. Degenhart, director of gift planning. "Gifts to the fund can be made when they will be most financially advantageous for the donor while allowing for tremendous flexibility in the timing and targeting of charitable support. By partnering with one of the leading DAF technology solutions in the industry, we are also able to offer supporters a unique range of online communication and account management tools that make giving easier, simpler, and more gratifying than ever."

"Today’s donors are demanding more from the online systems supporting their philanthropic tools, just like everything else in their portfolios," said William H. Hewitt, CMO of Crown Philanthropic Solutions. "The Crown DonorFirst platform provides features and capabilities that are unique, and essential, for engaging today’s donors via the Internet."

Individuals who create an account through the PSUCGF will have access to Crown’s DonorFirst donor dashboard environment; a secure, Web-based platform that makes it possible for donors to track contributions and distributions, research and receive rich content on both Penn State and external grantees, and direct their support, 24 hours a day, from any location. Donors also can invite other family members or friends to participate within their personal online giving dashboard, enabling them to communicate and share ideas on their individual or families’ philanthropy.

"By minimizing the challenges and maximizing the benefits of giving, both financial and personal, we hope that the Penn State University Charitable Gift Fund will make the experience of philanthropy even more rewarding for our supporters," said Kirsch. "We see this fund as a way to encourage the Penn State spirit of philanthropy and to help our supporters connect with the people and the causes that matter most to them."

Crown Philanthropic Solutions LLC was established in 2005 with the vision of delivering to their clients the social and collaborative power of the Internet coupled with the traditional functionality required for charitable instruments such as donor-advised funds and endowments. The result is a private-labeled Web application that is responsive to the expanding demands upon the philanthropic and financial communities for increased transparency, functionality and informational flow in their charitable gifting tools. DonorFirst delivers a vibrant online community for their clients, helping to bridge the planned gift and major gift communities, financial services and professional advisors, donors and their grantees. The DonorFirst platform supports both a pooled or mutual fund style investment chassis as well as individually managed accounts, and introduces levels of communication and collaboration within each donors’ account dashboard that have been unavailable in any existing DAF program. To learn more about Crown Philanthropic Solutions LLC and their DonorFirst program, contact Bill Hewitt bhewitt@crownps.com or visit http://www.DonorFirst.org/ online.

Last Updated June 17, 2011