Frequently asked questions
Find answers to your charitable-giving questions.
- What is a donor-advised fund and how does it work?
A Schwab Charitable donor-advised fund is a simple, tax-smart solution for supporting charitable organizations you care about. Once you set up an account with Schwab Charitable and contribute cash, securities, or appreciated assets, you’ll be eligible for a current-year tax deduction and can be more strategic about your giving decisions.
- What types of donor-advised fund accounts does Schwab Charitable offer?
We offer two different types of Schwab Charitable accounts. Our core donor-advised fund account has no minimum initial contribution. Donors can recommend investment of account assets among a selection of investment pools. For larger accounts (minimum $250,000 initial contribution), our professionally managed account option enables clients to recommend an investment advisor to invest the account in a wider range of investments.
- How much does a Schwab Charitable account cost?
The basic cost structure of a Schwab Charitable account consists of two parts: administrative fees and investment expenses.
In certain situations, we may assess additional fees on individual accounts to cover special costs. These may include legal and professional costs, taxes, or transaction costs.
Contributing to your account
- Are there any contribution minimums?
There is no minimum initial contribution to open a Schwab Charitable core account. You may make an irrevocable contribution of any size at any time.
- Which types of assets can be contributed to a Schwab Charitable™ account?
The most common contributions are cash and appreciated unrestricted publicly traded securities, including stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual fund shares, and bonds. Appreciated non-cash assets—such as restricted or privately held stock, private equity, hedge funds, real estate, and tangible personal property—are accepted on a case-by-case basis.
- How long does it take to process contributions for a new Schwab Charitable account?
Typically, accounts are opened and funded within one business day of the receipt of the initial contribution. In some cases (during periods of high volume or when assets are being transferred from a financial institution other than Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.), the process can take several weeks.
Investing your contributions
- How can assets contributed to Schwab Charitable accounts be invested prior to recommending a grant?
Schwab Charitable offers a variety of investment options depending on the account type.
Donors with a core donor-advised fund account can invest in a selection of investment pools.
Donors with a professionally managed account (minimum initial contribution of $250,000) may designate an investment advisor to invest the account in a broad range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds.
- Can I reallocate my funds among investment pools?
Donors may recommend a reallocation of the account assets at any time on Schwab.com or by using the Update Donor-Advised Account form. Schwab Charitable will invest all future contributions and fund all grants according to the most current requested portfolio asset allocation.
- What if I don’t specify a recommended asset allocation for my contributed assets?
If a donor chooses not to recommend a portfolio asset allocation, Schwab Charitable will allocate 100% of the contribution to the Money Market Pool. Donors may recommend a reallocation of the account assets at any time via the Schwab Charitable website or the Schwab Mobile app, or by using the Update Donor-Advised Account form.
Giving to a charity
- How do I recommend a grant?
Donors may recommend grants to charities of choice from their Schwab Charitable account. Because contributions to a Schwab Charitable account receive associated tax benefits, they are irrevocable and legally owned by Schwab Charitable. Schwab Charitable reviews and processes grant recommendations. Grant recommendations are generally approved as long as the organizations are IRS-approved 501(c)(3) public charities and the grants comply with guidelines and restrictions specified in the Program Policies.
- Is there a minimum grant amount?
Grants from Schwab Charitable can be made for as little as $50, enabling donors to use their accounts to facilitate most of their charitable giving.
Grants of $50 or more can be recommended to qualified U.S. tax-exempt charities, or to U.S. state or local governmental organizations qualified to receive charitable contributions, such as state colleges, universities, private operating foundations, or certain international organizations. There is no limit to the number of grant recommendations that you may make from the account.
While there is no minimum balance requirement, an account cannot maintain a zero balance indefinitely. Please see the Schwab Charitable Program Policies for more details.
- How long does it take to process grant recommendations for a new Schwab Charitable account?
If Schwab Charitable has already granted to a charity and it remains IRS-approved, a personalized grant letter and check will generally be mailed to the charity within three to five business days. If Schwab Charitable has not previously granted to the charity, the due diligence process may take a bit longer depending on the type of the charity and how responsive the charity is. During peak activity periods at the end of the year, grants may take longer to issue.
- What methods are available for allocating assets among successors and/or charitable beneficiaries?
1. Whole or decimal percentages method
In your succession plan, you may allocate to successors (individuals) and/or charitable beneficiaries (organizations). For example, you may leave half of your account assets to your son or daughter to manage and the have the other half granted to the Red Cross. These allocations can be made in whole or decimal percentages, rounded to the hundredth place. Your allocations to successors and charitable beneficiaries must total 100%. You may use this method alone or in combination with the fixed amount method described below.
2. Even split method
The even split method allows you to distribute allocations evenly between your successors and any charitable beneficiaries you designate. The allocation will appear as a fraction on your account statement. You may use this method alone or in combination with the fixed amount method described below.
3. Fixed amount method
You may select a fixed dollar amount to be distributed to your successors and/or beneficiaries. Another option is to combine with one of the methods described above. Any successor or charitable beneficiary with a designated fixed amount will be considered first, and the remaining funds will be distributed through the secondary method elected.
Please note: Any time the fixed amount method is selected, you must allocate at least one other successor or charitable beneficiary using a different method (this can be either percentage – whole or decimal – or even split). If the account balance is higher than the fixed amount at the time the succession plan is enacted, the secondary method will be used for distribution of the amount above the fixed amount. If the account balance is lower than the fixed amount at the time the succession plan is enacted, the secondary method will be used for distribution of the entire account balance.
For more information about this process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Beyond my lifetime, what account privileges do other account holders and account users retain?
Other account holders automatically succeed to the account after your lifetime. For example, if you and your spouse are both listed as account holders, your spouse remains on the account and becomes the primary account holder beyond your lifetime. Any account users also continue with the same privileges they had originally.
Your succession plan will not be enacted until after all account holders’ lifetimes. Account users are removed from the account at that time.
- What role do my contingent successors or contingent charitable beneficiaries play?
If all of your listed successors are either deceased, unwilling to serve, or ineligible, then your contingent successor(s) may have privileges. Similarly, when your succession plan is enacted, if none of your designated charitable beneficiaries are eligible to receive a grant for any reason, then your contingent charitable beneficiary recommendation(s) will be considered.