November 2013: Charitable Giving Products

In this month’s Broker Monitor Report, we review the charitable donation services offered by our Broker Monitor firms that enable investors to donate through a planned vehicle for long-term giving. We reviewed 16 of the brokerage firms in our coverage group, with a specific focus on the variety of charitable giving products and the services offered, along with the fees and features associated with them.
Specifically, we evaluated firms by the following criteria:

  • Products and Services Offered by Charitable Donation Services
  • Fees Associated with Services
  • Additional Features

Though philanthropy and charitable giving are terms often linked with affluent clients, all investors have opportunities to establish long-term charitable giving strategies. Among the brokerage firms on our roster, the overwhelming majority (84%) offers charitable giving products and services; contributions through trusts and annuities are also common. Among investment accounts, however, donor-advised funds (DAFs) have emerged as a popular vehicle for investors to consider.


Since these accounts require a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization to hold the funds, we were unsurprised to find that five
Broker Monitor firms created their own charitable organizations through which they offer these funds. Several other firms have partnered with independent public charities to offer these funds. All of these funds operate in similar ways due to IRS regulation, but there are some key differences among them, including minimum investment variations, administrative fees and the types of assets accepted.


We also found that three brokerage firms offer investors unique opportunities to distribute assets as charitable donations. One firm is partnered with a registered charity
ShareGift USA
that allows investors to donate shares as a charitable contribution to the organization. Additionally, two firms allow clients to give a grant directly to an international charity from the fund.


Additional key findings include:

  • Donor advised funds allow investors to select a variety of investment options, including asset allocation models and single asset funds.
  • Two firms feature programs that invest solely in proprietary mutual funds.
  • $250 is the most common minimum grant size for donor-advised funds.
  • Two firms feature a minimum grant size of only $50, while one firm requires a $500 minimum.