Among the very wealthy, family foundations long have been a common vehicle for charitable giving. However, more families than ever are skipping foundations altogether in favor of simpler and cheaper donor-advised funds.

Credit the convenience factor, say industry executives. “They are very operationally easy,” says Sarah Libbey, president of Fidelity Charitable, which runs one of the nation’s largest donor-advised funds. "There’s no paperwork and everything is online."

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