What’s hot when it comes to gifts for the college graduate? You guessed it. Once again, the ever-popular, flexible and tax effective donor-advised fund carries the day. This year, more and more parents and grandparents across the country are giving a graduating child or grandchild a donor-advised fund, pre-established and pre-funded, in the name of the graduate.

Donor advised funds as gifts to the next generation are on the rise at innovative community foundations, financial institutions, universities, and other donor advised fund providers. “We’re inviting our donors to consider ‘gift funds’ as a way to engage their own family members in philanthropic values,” said a community foundation CEO. “We help the donor create the fund, including online access, so that the donor can literally ‘put a bow’ on the fund establishing document–rolled up like a diploma. The donor adds a card with the website and login credentials, and presents it to the child or grandchild as a gift. Both giver and receiver love the experience.”

To make it even sweeter, thanks to today’s cutting edge technology, the parent or grandparent can set up a donor-advised fund for multiple adult children or grandchildren and pre-invite all of them to a “group.” Then, when a child or grandchild logs in to see the new donor-advised fund for the first time, he or she is greeted with a personal message from the parent or grandparent.

“Many families consider family content to be a key part of the online philanthropy experience,” commented the founder of a Kansas City-based RIA. “This way, the family’s values stay intact across generations.” Keeping in touch online is key. Families are becoming increasingly reliant on a donor-advised fund platform to share stories about the joy of giving based on personal experience. Some families even share a list of favorite charities that have meant the most to the family over the years. “Telling stories and sharing experiences is itself a gift,” added the founder, “because what our clients’ families want more than anything is positive communication among family members, especially as children grow up, graduate, and move away.”

Family communication is always a plus, and communication across the generations is even richer when it’s focused on a topic like philanthropy. Intergenerational dialogue is a major advantage of selecting a donor-advised fund to anchor a family’s emotional connections. Hats off to donor-advised funds!

FamilyLaura McKnight