The Hamilton Donor Advised Fund (interchangeably, the “HDAF” or the “Fund”) allows you to simplify the way you manage your philanthropy. This Policy Document explains how the Fund works, including how to establish an Account within the Fund and make grants from it.

An Account in the HDAF allows you to:

  • Make irrevocable charitable contributions to Hamilton College (the “College”)
  • Recommend grants to qualified public charities from the HDAF, subject to approval by the College
  • Take an immediate federal income tax deduction, up to the maximum allowed by law
  • Participate in the investment returns of the College endowment
  • Enjoy recognition for your grants, or maintain your privacy and remain anonymous
  • The entire value of your Account and its earnings is irrevocably designated to qualified public charities, with at least 50% irrevocably designated to the College.

Distributions from your Account can begin anytime.

The management of, and your participation in, the Fund is subject to the terms and conditions described in this Policy Document.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a HDAF?

A charitable giving account you establish to benefit Hamilton College, (“Hamilton” or “the College”) and to recommend grants to other qualified public charitable organizations.

Why establish a Donor Advisor Fund with Hamilton?

To partner with an established institution – Hamilton – with a strong investment record. Other benefits include:

  • You take an income tax charitable contribution deduction when you irrevocably make a contribution to your HDAF Account.
  • You avoid tax on your long-term gain when you contribute appreciated securities and other property.
  • The value of your HDAF Account may grow, increasing the amounts available to distribute to Hamilton and other qualified public charities through recommended grants.
  • You simplify your philanthropy with one charitable account – timing your deduction for maximum benefit and making grants when you wish – and either enjoy recognition for your grants to other qualified public charities or remain anonymous.
What is the minimum contribution to the HDAF?

$100,000. All gifts are irrevocable. Additional contributions of any amount can be made at any time during your lifetime and through your estate.

How will my HDAF work?

You will complete a Donor Account Application and may transfer, cash, mutual fund shares, stocks, bonds, and other securities, including private and restricted stock, and real estate to Hamilton for your Account. Contributions must be accepted by the College. Upon liquidation, which will occur as soon as practicable after transfer to the College, your gift will be assigned units of the endowment similar to procedures in place for endowed funds, and allocated a pro rata piece of every investment held by the College endowment.

Will my HDAF be subject to tax?

No, with the possible exception of the Endowment Excise Tax, your HDAF will grow tax-free – increasing the amount available for grants to Hamilton and other qualified public charities, as income, dividends, and realized gains will not be subject to taxation.

What are the fees?

Hamilton charges no additional Donor Advisor Fund fees or administrative expenses to manage your Account. By holding units of the College endowment, your Account will pay its share of the comprehensive investment fee of approximately 70 basis points (FY2019).

When do grants begin?

Distributions from your Account of at least $1,000 or more per grant may begin anytime.

Who can recommend grants?

Typically, a donor, or a donor and a spouse/partner, may recommend grants during his/her/their lifetimes. Others may be added to succeed them for a term not to exceed a total of 10 years.

How will HDAF accounting work?

The College will establish your Account, comprised of two Sub Accounts each with 50% of your contribution:

  • “H” (Hamilton) Account and its earnings will be irrevocably designated to the College.
  • “O” (Other) Account and its earnings will be available to be distributed to other qualified public charities or the College.

The College will maintain an accounting of your contributions to, grants made from, and allocable investment returns and losses of each Sub Account. The amounts in each Sub Account are assets of the College and donors have no ownership interests in them. Donors, however, retain advisory privileges.

How are grants recommended?

Donors complete a Grant Recommendation Form directing grants to Hamilton from either Sub Accounts and to qualified charities from Sub Account “O.”

When will grants be sent by HDAF?

HDAF reviews grant recommendations on a regular basis, preferring to process grants at month end.

When will I receive “gift credit” from Hamilton?

You will receive gift credit for grants made to Hamilton from either Sub Account. You or your estate will receive credit for amounts from either Sub Account directed to the College upon termination of your HDAF. 

What other benefits are available to me beyond making a significant contribution to and engaging with Hamilton as a philanthropic partner?

You will receive annual reports, high-level stewardship, and be welcomed as a member of the Joel Bristol Associates. This recognition society takes its name from one of the original supporters of the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, Joel Bristol, whose family has long been associated with the College. You qualify as a member since the application allows you to direct the remainder value of your Accounts to Hamilton.

Does Hamilton offer other investment options?

Not at this time.

How about online grant making?

You recommend grants by working with your gift officer or the Director of Gift Planning and completing a Grant Recommendation Form. Hamilton has established policies to ensure that recommended grants are made to qualified public charities. All grants are subject to approval.

Can I transfer to a HDAF assets held in my Private Foundation?

Yes, we will assist you in opening a HDAF Account to which you would transfer your Private Foundation assets, eliminating the required accounting and tax returns.

How about a Donor Advised Fund with a commercial entity?

Yes, you may transfer to a HDAF Account assets in any existing Donor Advised Fund.

Let’s Talk

Contact Julie Ross '84 at 315-859-4640 or to discuss how the College can help you with your gift planning needs. Please choose Hamilton College to tell your story and share your legacy.