Pastor Uses DAF to Teach Generous Giving

September 6, 2017 by Eva Stimson

Giving generously is something Rev. Kerry Slinkard makes a point of practicing as well as preaching. “It’s a response to God’s blessing,” he says, “an acknowledgment of our responsibility to those around us.”

Slinkard, who retired February 25, 2018, as pastor of 400-member Oxford Presbyterian Church in southeastern Pennsylvania, says he and his wife, Lisa, set up a donor-advised fund (DAF) through the Presbyterian Foundation so they could be more intentional about their giving.

The fund has also helped them teach generosity to their daughters and has given Kerry a valuable tool to share with members of his congregation.

The DAF works like an online charitable checkbook to manage and streamline charitable giving. Ellie Johns-Kelley, a Ministry Relations Officer for the Foundation, helped the Slinkards set up their DAF in November 2015.

“When we were considering a donor-advised fund, we had a number of options,” Slinkard says. They looked at community foundations and other organizations, but ultimately chose the Foundation’s DAF as the best vehicle to manage their charitable contributions.

“We believe in the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Church, and the Foundation supports that,” Slinkard explains. “The Presbyterian Foundation’s investment policies comport with ours.”

Organizing their giving to be “coherent and consistent” is important to the Slinkards, both of whom have led capital campaigns — Kerry in his congregation and Lisa in her job as development officer at an Episcopal school.

By making annual contributions of appreciated stock to their DAF, the Slinkards avoid having to pay taxes on their capital gains. They then can recommend grants of $100 or more from their fund to each charity they want to support. Grants can be made to any 501(c)(3) organization, including churches.

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. Thus the Foundation has sole control over all investments and grants of the DAF.

Slinkard says his congregation’s capital campaign included an educational piece about ways to support the church financially. Donor-advised funds will be one of the options.

Nearly two years ago, Oxford Presbyterian Church set up an online giving mechanism through the Presbyterian Foundation to make it easier for members to support the church’s mission. A few members are giving online, and the number is slowly increasing.

The Slinkards enjoy talking about giving opportunities with their daughters, 16-year-old Yujie and 14-year-old Clare, and encouraging them to think about how they can contribute. “In addition to helping our own philanthropy, our DAF offers our daughters the opportunity to give to causes they want to support,” Slinkard says.

In her work with the Foundation, Johns-Kelley has observed that DAFs are ideal tools for families to teach children and grandchildren to practice charitable giving.

“If you’re sitting around the kitchen table and talking about Heifer Project or a feeding program in your community, you can say, ‘Let’s make a gift through our DAF,’” she says. “It’s another opportunity for conversation about generosity.”