Donor-advised funds offer flexibility

By Dan Davis

Donor-advised funds, also called charitable gift funds, have been around for a long time, but they have historically been used on a limited basis.

That’s changing, however.

Some folks, such as Fred Moritz of Seymour, find that a donor-advised fund simplifies their charitable donations, giving them better control of their money and a simplified deduction for their taxes.

His father, Everett Moritz, established the Everett V. and Maria Moritz Fund to benefit the community. In recent years, Fred Moritz has recommended grants from the fund to benefit Community Provisions, Seymour’s skate park, the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, Leadership Jackson County, the Community Foundation of Jackson County and others.

“These organizations are important assets in our community and helping them and others meet their needs and provide the work they offer is why the fund was created,” Fred Moritz said. “Our family wants to be of help in our community.”

Moritz also recommended grants to support COVID-19 response work during 2020.

“With COVID-19 disrupting so many lives, we had to do something to help any way that we can,” Moritz said of his decision to recommend grants from the fund. “We hope this helps the agencies do their work in these challenging times.”

For years, the Moritz family owned and operated Union Hardware in downtown Seymour. With the Moritz Fund created as an endowment, the fund will offer grants to the community in perpetuity.

Moritz isn’t alone. Brothers Gary, Pat and Bob Myers find that a donor-advised fund at the foundation makes giving simpler and ensures that their charitable gifts are meeting community needs.

The Seymour natives – through the family business then known as Kocolene Marketing Corp. — established a donor-advised fund that honors their parents, Francis “Pat” and Dorothy M. Myers, and the family’s dedication to helping the communities that supported the family business.

“Kocolene receives many requests for charitable donations each year from within our local county but also outside since we market to many counties,” Gary Myers said. “The guidelines established by the Community Foundation help us screen the requests and ensures the true worthy causes gain the strongest consideration. The donor-advised program is very flexible in that we can request grants be made from the fund to any qualifying charitable organization be they local or outside the county.”

Grants from the fund have benefited many organizations over the years, including the Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County, Girls Inc. of Jackson County, Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, the Seymour Police Department DARE Program, the Jackson County United Way and the Tracy Bullard Memorial Endowment.

More recently, Gary Myers and his wife, Janet, created the Janet L. and Gary F. Myers Charitable Fund, also a donor-advised fund. The fund has approved recent grants to Peace Lutheran Church, Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Seymour Main Street, the Schneck Foundation and the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts.

Giving to others was something instilled in the Myers brothers from childhood.

“My brothers and I were always raised by both our father and our mother to share our blessings and help in ways one can to make the community better,” Gary said. “If we want a good quality of life, we cannot sit on the sidelines and hope someone else does all the work. We each need to pitch in and share our individual gifts and talents to make our community a great place to live, work and raise a family. Getting involved in some way is also rewarding personally. I’ve gained many friends and have such good memories from my days serving on local and state boards or committees.”

Establishing a donor advised fund is simple.

An initial irrevocable gift of at least $5,000 to the Community Foundation can establish an endowed fund.

You name the fund and designate an advisor, which can be you or someone else you designate. This can be a great way to teach philanthropy to your children, involving them in the selection process and reviewing the impact of gifts and earnings.

The advisor makes recommendations regarding grants. All grant recipients must be valid charities, and Foundation staff will do the research and confirm this before grant checks are written. This preserves the charitable nature of the fund.

You may add to the fund at any time. Ideally the fund will continue to grow with earnings from investments.

The donor-advised funds created by the Moritz and Myers families are among 25 overall at the Foundation, including a mix of endowed and non-permanent funds.

To learn more about establishing a donor advised fund and how they operate, give me a call at the foundation office, 812-523-4483. And keep in mind that there are other types of funds that might better suit your giving goals, such as community funds, field of interest funds and designated funds.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. For information about donating opportunities with the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected]