Frequently asked questions

Find answers to your charitable giving questions.

Getting Started

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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 may be eligible for a current-year tax deduction and can be more strategic about your giving decisions.

Learn more about how a Schwab Charitable donor-advised fund works.

We offer two different types of Schwab Charitable accounts. Our core donor-advised fund account does not require a minimum initial contribution and donors can recommend investment of account assets among a selection of investment pools. For larger accounts (minimum $100,000 initial contribution and ongoing balance), our professionally managed account option enables clients to recommend an investment advisor to invest the account in a wider range of investments.

Learn more about investment options for both core and professionally managed accounts.

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.

Learn more details about account fees in our Program Policies.

Learn more details about account fees online.


Contributing to your account

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You can open a core account with no minimum initial contribution. The minimum amount needed for a professionally managed account is $100,000.

You can contribute both cash and non-cash assets held more than one year. The most common contributions are cash and appreciated unrestricted publicly traded securities, like stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, 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.

Typically, accounts are opened, funded and ready for granting within a week of the receipt of the initial contribution. In some cases (during periods of high volume, if information provided on forms, funding, or granting instructions is incomplete or requires additional due diligence, and/or when assets are being transferred from a financial institution other than Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.), the process can take several weeks.

To contribute cash or publicly traded securities held at another firm, complete the Schwab Charitable Transfer of Assets form and review the Frequently Asked Questions on the form. For the fastest processing, you can scan the signed form, log in to your account, and send the form through the secure Message Center while online. You can also mail or fax the form using the Delivery Instructions on the form.


Investing your contributions

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We offer a variety of investment options depending on the account type.

For core accounts, you may recommend an asset allocation among a selection of investment pools.

For professionally managed accounts, you may recommend a qualified investment advisor to invest account assets in a broad range of options outside of the investment pools, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds.

If a donor chooses not to recommend a portfolio asset allocation, Schwab Charitable will allocate 100% of your contribution to the Money Market Pool. We encourage you to actively participate in your account allocations; you can recommend a reallocation of the account assets at any time on Schwab Charitable Client Center, on the Schwab Mobile app, or by using the Update Investment Pool Allocation form. 

Professionally managed accounts, which are available for accounts of $100,000 or more, allow you to recommend an investment advisor to manage assets outside of the investment pools. Your recommended advisor, if approved, may invest account assets in individual equities, bonds, or mutual funds consistent with our investment policy and guidelines.

Your investment advisor would work with you to select an investment strategy and performance benchmark for your account by considering your philanthropic goals, target return, risk tolerance, other special considerations, as well as our investment guidelines. The investment strategy and benchmark established for your account must comply with Schwab Charitable’s investment guidelines. 


Giving to a charity

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Donors may recommend grants to charities of choice from their Schwab Charitable account by logging in online, using the Schwab Mobile app, or by completing the Recommend a Grant form. Schwab Charitable reviews and processes grant recommendations. Grant recommendations are generally approved as long as the recipient organizations are classified by the IRS as 501(c)(3) public charities and the grants comply with guidelines specified in the Program Policies.

You can recommend grants for as little as $50 to eligible U.S. tax-exempt organizations, 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. We allow unlimited and recurring grants from an account to the extent that the account balance allows. 
 
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.

The time required to process and approve a grant recommendation varies depending on charity responsiveness, but on average, checks are mailed within five to seven business days. During peak activity periods, checks may take longer to issue. 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 sometimes take longer to issue.


Succession planning

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A succession plan for your donor-advised fund account typically is part of an overall estate planning strategy, and the plan’s primary objective is continuing donations with maximum charitable impact while reducing estate taxes. 

Schwab Charitable allows you to select any one or combination of three succession planning options: 

  • Recommend family members or other individuals as successors on your account 
  • Recommend charities as beneficiaries of final grants of your account balance 
  • Recommend charities for recurring grants over a specific timeframe with the Schwab Charitable Legacy Program. (To be eligible for the Schwab Charitable Legacy Program, the account balance must be at least $100,000 for core accounts and $100,000 for professionally managed accounts once the program is activated.)

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 funds evenly between your successors and any charitable beneficiaries you designate. The distribution amount will appear as a fraction. 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 charitable 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). This allocation is designated in case the fixed amount provided is not the actual balance of the account at the time the succession plan is enacted, i.e., whether there is enough money to meet the total amount allocated or the balance is higher than expected.

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.

Disclosure

A donor opening a professionally managed account must recommend an independent investment advisor, who, if approved by Schwab Charitable, will manage the assets contributed to the account. Advisors must meet certain eligibility requirements, including working with Schwab Advisor Services™, a business segment of The Charles Schwab Corporation, and agree to the Investment Advisory Agreement, which is available on schwabcharitable.org.

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