Donor-advised funds are a major tour-de-force, and their historical significance has not been recognized by many, but they have shifted the balance of powers to the private sector.
"When I try to explain to other historians—or, really, almost anybody—that donor advised funds fundamentally changed the balance of public and private power in the United States starting in the 1970s, I often receive blank stares in return. Even those who know what a donor advised fund is (and I count myself among the people who had no clue what they were until very recently) find it difficult to imagine how a charitable investment fund that their accountant likely recommended might have anything to do with the way power operates on a grand scale. With good reason, few historians have paid much attention to donor advised funds or DAFs. After all, integral to their creation, development, and operation has been their invisibility. As an historian interested in charting the transformations of philanthropic power and the public good within American-Jewish life specifically, I find this invisibility simultaneously maddening and compelling."--Lila Corwin Berman, HistPhil