Planned Giving

Planned Giving

Donor-Advised Funds

How does it work?

  • You make a tax-deductible gift of $1 million or more to Columbia to establish a donor-advised fund now and later advise on how you would like the University to use the gift. 
  • While you are considering what your donor-advised fund will support, the gift is then invested with other managed assets in the University’s endowment—which is managed by the Columbia Investment Management Company. As the fund harnesses the power of Columbia’s professionally managed endowment and grows over time, the donor gives recommendations for the distribution of both the original gift and the fund’s income and investment growth.
  • Generally, half of these distributions must remain at Columbia; other eligible charities may receive up to 50%. Many donors who are either considering or currently have a private foundation like the fact that donor-advised funds can function very similarly to a foundation without all of the complicated administration. 


  • Professional investment management: all donor-advised funds are invested in Columbia’s endowment. 
  • Tax advantages: you receive an immediate tax deduction when you make a donor-advised fund gift. 
  • Flexible: at least 50% goes to Columbia, and the rest may be distributed to other eligible nonprofit organizations. 
  • Cost effective: Columbia does not charge any fees for the fund administration. 
  • Time-saver: unlike a private foundation that requires time to administer, Columbia administers all matters that relate to a donor-advised fund, including investments, distributions, and reporting. 
  • Privacy: when a foundation is created, its tax forms are made public—exposing details of the foundation’s operations and even some personal information. In comparison, a donor-advised fund offers the donor more privacy because no information is available when the fund is established.

Minimum gift level: $1 million; $250,000 for additional gifts

Contact Us

To learn more about establishing a donor-advised fund at Columbia, please contact us. We would be happy to provide you with information about how a donor-advised fund might work based on your circumstances. Please call our office at 800-338-3294 or e-mail us at gift.planning@columbia.edu.

Those considering a planned gift should consult their own legal and tax advisors. The staff in the Office of Gift Planning would be happy to speak to advisors as well.


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