The Merchant Family Foundation is a donor advised fund, which allows the donor to make gifts to public charities in the United States whenever they wish, be it monthly, annually, or over several years.
Donor advised funds may be invested, endowed, or act as a “charitable checking” account. These funds help donors meet their philanthropic goals in Pasadena and beyond, offering flexible giving options with simplified administration.
A Gift of Real Estate Becomes a Donor Advised Fund for the Whole Family
Edward (“Ted”) and Betsy Merchant have deep roots in Pasadena and a commitment to the wellbeing of their community. Betsy’s great-grandparents arrived in Pasadena from the east coast in 1888, before Pasadena was an incorporated city. Ted is also a Pasadena native He attended Muir High School before going on to pursue what became a 35-year career in obstetrics and gynecology. Betsy was a long-time teacher in local schools and now devotes her time to nourishing the hearts and souls of people through her involvement in Stillpoint, an ecumenical organization. Ted and Betsy have been married since 1978 and have three grown children.
A Unique Opportunity to Give It Away
Ten years ago, the Merchants purchased a three-bedroom house on South San Marino Avenue as a rental property for Ted’s sister. It was her home for nine years before she moved away earlier this year. “We wondered what to do with it,” Ted notes, “before realizing that if we gave it away to a nonprofit, we could realize a tax break.”
With the help of their accountant Tony Gronroos, a managing partner with HKG in Pasadena, the couple reached out to PCF. “We considered working with various nonprofits that have focused missions, but we didn’t feel comfortable putting all those eggs in one basket,” Ted remembers. ”PCF gave us the unique opportunity to give the house away and then create a fund that could be dispersed in multiple directions, supporting numerous nonprofit missions.”
PCF worked closely with Ted and Betsy to coordinate the gift of the property to the Foundation. Once the legal work was complete, PCF listed the property, which sold within two weeks. The proceeds funded a new donor advised fund, which allows the Merchant family to make gifts to their favorite nonprofit organizations in the coming years. “The process was just ridiculously straightforward and easy, which is one of the things that sold us on PCF,” according to Ted. “PCF staff was incredibly helpful.”
Benefits for the Entire Family
Along with realizing tax benefits of this significant charitable gift, Ted sees another important benefit: “Our DAF allows us to get together with our children and discuss philanthropic contributions. They are part of our ‘advisory committee,’” and together we can create conversations that are relevant about how to get involved in the philanthropic sector. It’s a nice way to bring the family together and do collective good together.”