Stronger Together: The Impact of Donor Advised Funds

Donor advised funds have a major impact on our area’s philanthropic landscape

Santa Fe and northern New Mexico are fortunate in many ways — not least of all because of the collective goodwill and community spirit that animate our region. This goodwill takes many forms, including impactful philanthropic partnerships with the Santa Fe Community Foundation (SFCF).

One of the most popular ways community members partner with SFCF is through donor advised funds (DAFs), which have become the nation’s fastest-growing philanthropic tool for their ease, flexibility, and tax advantages. DAFs are also a major reason why the Santa Fe Community Foundation is the largest nonprofit funder in New Mexico. Last year, we made $12 million in grants — and half of that giving occurred through the 250+ donor advised funds that we steward.

What is a donor advised fund?

A donor advised fund is a philanthropic account — sponsored by an organization such as the Santa Fe Community Foundation — that supports the causes and nonprofits you care about while offering a multitude of benefits.

DAFs allow you to receive immediate income tax deductions for your contributions to the fund without the pressure of making giving decisions immediately. Some donors recommend grants to their favorite nonprofits right away, while others consult with our team to create a long-term giving strategy.

Regardless of the timing or frequency of giving, SFCF staff will handle all the associated paperwork, assist you with research, and ensure you continue to receive the greatest tax benefits possible for the life of the DAF.  

What is the advantage of working with the community foundation?

The personalized service we offer each donor advised fundholder is as unique as their philanthropic interests and perspectives. We start by reviewing your charitable interests and giving history, both across northern New Mexico and nationally. Often, our donors maintain their prior giving while taking advantage of SFCF’s local expertise to deepen their understanding of community needs and expand their grantmaking portfolio.

SFCF Fundholder Richard Hertz with his late wife Doris

As fundholder Richard Hertz notes:

“I have loved the opportunity to be part of educational sessions where nonprofits and philanthropists come together to hear about needs and what is going on in the community. The Foundation is fantastic at advising — not pushing you in one direction or another. If you have an area of interest, they will help you identify nonprofits that align with your interests.”  

Once a DAF has been established, the Foundation takes responsibility of its management while the donor retains advisory privileges. When our donors make recommendations about potential grant recipients, SFCF conducts due diligence to ensure that the receiving organizations are in good standing.

SFCF fundholders Steve Thompson and Anne Weaver

As fundholder Anne Weaver remarks:

“SFCF writes all the checks, fields the responses, and shields us from the resultant junk mail!”

How can a donor advised fund support my philanthropic legacy?

The Santa Fe Community Foundation works closely with donors to determine what they would like to happen after their passing. Many options are available; for example, donors can create an endowment with the DAF’s remaining funds or disburse them to provide immediate support for nonprofits. They can also direct any additional assets to the community foundation to deploy as they desire.

In every case, we work diligently to honor our donors’ wishes. If a donor’s intended grantee disbands, we will identify a comparable organization that embodies the donors’ values and intent.

Fundholder Richard Hertz describes his experience thinking through these questions with the Foundation: “As my wife Doris and I discussed our legacy plans for the assets we have been fortunate to acquire and grow, we set up an agreement with the community foundation that, no matter what remains, they would continue to distribute funds on our behalf for 10 years after our passing."

"Over the years, we’ve grown more and more comfortable that the community foundation will listen to our wishes and will be diligent in carrying them out down the road. They are competent, knowledgeable, and very focused on carrying out what the donor intends.”

What makes a community foundation unique?

We think of the Santa Fe Community Foundation as a connector of local knowledge and resources — and we always strive to share our insights to drive positive change across our region.

SFCF Fundholders Susan and Conrad De Jong

Fundholders Susan and Conrad De Jong describe their experience:

“Once we moved to Santa Fe, we wanted to be more local and have the expertise of a local resource. When we learned about the Santa Fe Community Foundation and all that it offers, for us, it was the perfect way to carry out our philanthropic giving. SFCF gives us the reassurance that our funds are being put to the best use because of its close understanding of what is going on in the community. We love that SFCF introduces us to needs and nonprofits that we might not otherwise know about.”

Our nonprofit partners agree that SFCF’s donor services are powerful. Local nonprofit Chainbreaker Collective, states:

“For us, there is no work without donations and grants from the community. These resources are how we exist. Santa Fe Community Foundation provided the first grant we ever received — and ongoing support from their DAFs have helped us keep the lights on and the work moving forward.”

 As our partners in philanthropy make clear, we’re stronger together.

Getting Started

  • We pair you with a donor services staff person who is available to answer your questions and support your grantmaking.
  •  You make a gift of cash, marketable securities, or other assets to establish a fund.
  • You receive the highest level of charitable tax benefit immediately — as well as the comfort of knowing that you won’t be pressured to make an immediate decision about where to direct funds.
  • Funds are invested according to our investment philosophy and can be structured to protect principal while generating tax-free income over time.
  • You recommend grants to support charitable organizations. After our due-diligence review of the charities you select, we make the grants through the DAF.
  • SFCF handles all the paperwork, including documentation and tracking, organizational evaluation, and follow-up.
  • You receive written acknowledgement for tax purposes of contributions you make to the fund.

Your Contact

For more information, please contact Sandra Session-Robertson, Vice President, Development & Donor Relations, at or 505.988.9715. We’d welcome the chance to build a strong philanthropic partnership with you.

Feb 26, 2024
News & Stories

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