Skip to main content
Horizontal Rule

QCDs: Five questions your older donors may be asking


As you review your donor lists and plan 2024 cultivation activities, pay particular attention to donors you know are over the age of 70 ½. That's because these donors are eligible to make what's known as a "Qualified Charitable Distribution," or "QCD," to your organization's endowment fund at the community foundation directly from the donor's IRA. 

Older adults looking at a computer

You've likely heard a lot about QCDs because they are becoming a very popular financial and charitable planning tool. At the same time, QCDs are growing as the source of more and more confusion.

Here are answers to the questions donors might ask you about QCDs so that your team can be prepared to answer them. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to the community foundation for assistance.

"Is an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) the only eligible source for Qualified Charitable Distributions?"

Short answer: Almost.

Long answer: An individual can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution directly to an eligible charity from a traditional IRA or an inherited IRA. If the individual's employer is no longer contributing to a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan or a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA, the individual may use those accounts as well. In theory, a Roth IRA could be used to make a QCD, but it is rarely advantageous to do that because Roth IRA distributions are already tax-free.

"What is the difference between a QCD and an RMD?"

Short answer: Quite a bit! But a QCD can count toward an RMD. 

Long answer: Everyone must start taking Required Minimum Distributions ("RMDs") from their qualified retirement plans, including IRAs, when they reach the age of 73. RMDs are taxable income. The Qualified Charitable Distribution, by contrast, is a distribution directly from certain types of qualified retirement plans (such as IRAs) to certain types of charities. When a taxpayer follows the rules, a QCD can count toward the taxpayer's RMD for that year. And because the QCD goes directly to charity, the taxpayer is not taxed on that distribution.      

"Can a donor make a Qualified Charitable Distribution even if the donor is not yet required to take Required Minimum Distributions?"

Short answer: Yes–within a very narrow age window. 

Long answer: RMDs and QCDs are both distributions that impact retirement-age taxpayers, and it would seem logical that the age thresholds would be the same. Under the SECURE Act, though, the required date for starting RMDs was shifted from 70 ½ to 72 and is now up to 73 (which is better for taxpayers who want to delay taxable income). A corresponding shift was not made to the eligible age for executing QCDs; that age is still 70 ½ (which benefits taxpayers who wish to access IRA funds to make charitable gifts even before they are required to take RMDs).

The IRS' rules for QCDs are captured in Internal Revenue Code Section 408 and summarized on pages 14 and 15 in Publication 590-B in its FAQs publication. 

"Can a donor direct a QCD to a fund at the community foundation?"

Short answer: Yes, if it's a qualifying fund.

Long answer: While donor-advised funds are not eligible recipients of Qualified Charitable Distributions, other types of funds at the community foundation can receive QCDs. These funds include endowment funds established by nonprofit organizations. 

"How much can a donor give through a QCD?" 

Short answer: $105,000 per year.

Long answer: A Qualified Charitable Distribution permits a donor (and a spouse from a spouse's own IRA or IRAs) to transfer up to $105,000 each year from an IRA (or multiple IRAs) to a qualified charity. So, a married couple may be eligible to direct up to a total of $210,000 per year to charity from IRAs and avoid significant income tax liability. 

The community foundation is here to help you and your team tap into the potential of QCDs to grow your endowment fund. Please reach out! We'd love to talk about a QCD strategy for 2024 and beyond.

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. 

Horizontal Rule

Stay Connected

Sign up for our e-newsletter