Donor-Advised Fund helps couple grow their commitment to giving

Flexible investment supports present and future goals

by Eva Stimson | Presbyterian Foundation

Mira Sunwar (7) holds a family goat at her home in Tleyanpur Village, Nepal on January 24, 2013. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE — Charitable giving is not a one-time act but a work in progress for Steve and Sarah Mato, members of Providence Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colorado, southeast of Denver.

“It’s always been important to us to give to the church,” says Steve, who works as project manager for a business offering rechargeable power solutions. “At first, we weren’t able to give very much, but over time we have tried to give 10 percent of our income to church and charities.

Setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) through the Presbyterian Foundation — a step the Matos took in 2014 — has moved them ahead on their goals for both present and future giving. A DAF works like an online charitable checkbook, making giving simple and convenient as well as providing potential tax benefits.

The Matos recall buying their first home as newly-weds — a purchase that left them with only $100 in savings. Their bank account has grown significantly since then, along with their commitment to giving. Besides making regular donations to their church and other causes, they are working on a list of organizations that will receive money from their estate after their deaths.

The Matos appreciate the flexibility of their DAF, which allows them to easily change and update their ultimate beneficiaries without incurring attorney fees. After their deaths, the fund will receive 10 percent of a revocable living trust that they have established. Their son and daughter will have the freedom to make their own decisions about the dispersal of the funds, giving consideration to their parents’ wishes.

“We trust our children,” Sarah says. “We’ll have a list to guide them, but we don’t have a problem with them making changes.” If one of them volunteers with a 501c3 organization, for example, they might decide to recommend contributions to that organization.

“We want to encourage personal involvement,” Sarah says. “And we like not having to pay to change a legal document to update things,” Steve adds.

A minimum of $2,500 is required to open a DAF through the Foundation. Tax laws require that a donor’s charitable gifts be irrevocable and unconditional to receive the associated tax benefits of a charitable deduction. Donors like the Matos can recommend grants of $100 or more from their fund to each charity they want to support. They can also recommend how the fund is invested. As sole owner of the fund, the Foundation has ultimate control over all investments and grants of the fund.

Because the fund is set up only for contributions to 501c3 organizations, the Matos can be confident that their money will not be used for frivolous causes. “It’s not going to buy a boat,” Sarah says with a chuckle.

Steve often receives bonuses from his job late in the year. Before setting up the DAF, the Matos had to scramble in December to give away a portion of that money to take a deduction on their income tax.

“Now it’s an easy transition,” Sarah says. “We can put the money in our fund immediately and decide later how to give.”

Sherry Kenney, a Ministry Relations Officer (MRO) for the Presbyterian Foundation, worked with the Matos over a period of six-to-nine months as they explored ways to donate their money, ultimately deciding that a DAF was their best solution. When Steve’s mother died a few years ago, Steve placed a tenth of his inheritance into the newly established fund.

Easter 2016 marked a high point in the Matos’ giving history. They were asked by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to provide part of a pool of matching funds for a special fundraising effort. PDA then invited others to give, and their funds would be matched for a limited time. “It was a pretty cool experience,” Steve says.

Among other beneficiaries of the Matos’ generosity are Habitat for Humanity, Heifer Project, the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and their current and past congregations. They have also given to the Zimbabwe Mission Partnership, a project of Denver Presbytery. Sarah, who worked for many years as a bookkeeper, is treasurer of the partnership.

“The key is not how much you give,” says Steve. “The important thing is to start and to make a commitment to continue.”


Talk to a Presbyterian Foundation Ministry Relations Officer about the flexibility and simplicity of a donor-advised fund to support your church’s mission and other charitable ministries. Call us at 800-858-6127 or email at

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