May 3, 2021

As a consumer, when I’m researching the value or benefits of a particular product or service, I rarely visit the company’s website first. Why? Because I want an unbiased opinion from consumers who have experienced that product or service. To me, if you’ve “been there, done that,” your opinion carries more weight.

The Texas A&M Foundation has seen an increase in donors using donor-advised funds (DAFs) to make charitable donations in the form of both current and planned gifts. In our May 2020 e-newsletter, we shared the article: “Top 5 Donor-Advised Fund Advantages,” which explained the benefits a DAF presents. If you read that article and weren’t convinced, we encourage you to read the responses below when we asked real Foundation donors about how and why they use a DAF to support their passions in Aggieland. Before we jump into the Q&A, let’s quickly revisit what a DAF is and the value it provides.

A DAF is often referred to as a personal charitable savings account. A donor creates an account with a sponsoring organization, which can be a nonprofit or an investment company. The donor then makes a contribution of cash, stock, or other assets like real estate and artwork, and can take an immediate charitable deduction for the gift. An adviser manages and invests the assets and works with the donor to identify charitable causes they wish to support.

Now to tell you more about DAFs from their personal experience, please meet donors Jennifer ’93 and Ken Dunphy ’92 from Beaumont, Texas, and Magda and Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, Texas A&M University faculty members.

Jennifer '93 and Ken '92 Dunphy are using their donor-advised fund to inspire women and minorities to pursue engineering careers.
Magda and Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas are using their donor-advised fund to make a difference in the lives of first-generation students.








When were you first made aware of DAFs?

The Dunphys: Our financial planner introduced us to donor-advised funds in 2018.

The Lagoudas: We learned about them five years ago.

What motivated you to establish a DAF?

The Dunphys: The tax benefit appealed to us.

The Lagoudas: We liked the fact that it allows you to easily donate to recognized charitable organizations.

How do you utilize your account?

The Dunphys: We use it to make a few large grants each year, like our Texas A&M scholarship, the United Way, etc. We also make smaller, charitable gifts each year as the need arises.

The Lagoudas: We have used the account to make contributions to Texas A&M for various opportunities and also support other nonprofit organizations.  We typically use our fund to make many small gifts and a few larger contributions.

Is your DAF easy to use?

The Dunphys: Our DAF is very easy to use. We use Fidelity, and the process is very streamlined and simple.

The Lagoudas: Yes, it’s easy to execute because we can easily make electronic transfers to the account and then to charities. It is also convenient to set up recurring donations and organize our overall giving, and we can easily invest assets into our account.

Who advises you through the process of making donations from your account?

The Dunphys: We make all of the charitable decisions ourselves, but Fidelity does ensure the charity meets the grant criteria.

The Lagoudas: We make these decisions. It is easy to manage all of the details online.

Are there giving restrictions when using your account?

The Dunphys: Yes, but our account lets us support most qualified 501(c)(3) public charities.

The Lagoudas: We have not experienced any restrictions with donations we’ve made so far.

How does this giving method benefit you?

The Dunphys: We benefit from receiving a tax break.

The Lagoudas: It streamlines our IRS reporting because we can very efficiently transfer our annual charitable giving information directly to our accountant for tax preparation.

How are you using your DAF to support Texas A&M?

The Dunphys: We are using it to support chemical engineering scholarships. It is important to us to encourage more women and minorities to pursue engineering careers. We also wanted to give folks the opportunity to attend Texas A&M, who might not otherwise be able to. We felt like establishing scholarships would help in these areas.

The Lagoudas: In the past, we made several donations to support scholarship efforts at the departmental and college levels. Recently, we established a scholarship to support first-generation students pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. With both of us being first-generation students and faculty members, we have experienced the difference education makes through our own lives and the lives of our students, especially at Texas A&M.

What is the process for using your DAF to make charitable contributions to the Texas A&M Foundation?

The Dunphys: It is as simple as notifying Fidelity to request a grant to the Texas A&M Foundation.

The Lagoudas: All we had to do was add the Texas A&M Foundation as one of the charities in our database.

What advice do you have for others interested in supporting Texas A&M with their DAFs?

The Dunphys: Work with your financial planner and use an investment firm with experience in DAFs.

The Lagoudas: It is very convenient. Once you work with the Foundation and identify what you want your gift to support, the logistics are easy. Investing in the education of the next generation is investing in our future.  

To learn more about how you can use your donor-advised fund to support your areas of interest in Aggieland, please contact Angela Throne ’03 by completing the form below.

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