Anna Josse, CEO & Founder of Prism the Gift Fund (Prism), talks to CityAM on Donor Advised Funds –
the fastest-growing philanthropy vehicle in the UK.
Anna, what is your background?
I was always active as a leader in youth movements in my teens, and at university publicly fought
many political battles in the union. That background helps enable you to be engaged,
entrepreneurial and tenacious. As I began my career it was clear from early on that I didn’t fit a
corporate structure well and was better suited to building and growing new organisations. I’ve
always taken an active interest in the third sector and philanthropy and in the 1990s, I set up the
British arm of an American charity. During that time, I learnt a lot from the Americans about major
donor fundraising and also saw Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) in the USA. Apart from a large
government body in the UK they didn’t really exist and in the early 2000s I started a year and a half of
research to look at structures and prospective clients and in 2005, set up Prism. Prism continues to
grow as the demand for our services increases and in our last filed accounts (FY end June 2021), we
saw a donation income of £115m and distributed £60m globally, and we currently have c£250m in
assets managed. To date, Prism has seen a donation income of more than £0.5bn.
What is a Donor Advised Fund (DAF)?
DAFs are an alternative to setting up one’s own grant-making foundation or operational charity and
they’re becoming more popular in the UK given the increasingly tough regulation that charities
operate under at the Charity Commission. Prism takes care of the due diligence, governance and
compliance, leaving donors with the joy of giving and without onerous ongoing administration.
Tell us about Prism
At Prism, we administer DAFs for high-net-worth individuals, groups, foundations and corporates,
giving significantly to causes all over the world. To set Prism apart from others, I always felt it
important that our ethos was bespoke and entrepreneurial. That’s why we pride ourselves on
providing the highest level of service to our clients – we offer private client philanthropy. Our clients
have a dedicated relationship manager who has oversight on their DAF or Collective Fund account
and is in direct contact with the client over the phone or email. We’ve ensured Prism’s DAF is flexible to
meet the needs of those we work with. Donors can gift cash, shares, cryptocurrency, property and
other non-cash passion assets. Furthermore, we distribute to charitable causes all over the world
and can facilitate donations to charities, social enterprises and even private companies. For example,
we’ve previously donated to a private organisation with shareholders, working with expert
charitable lawyers to create a robust grant agreement to ensure the donated funds are ringfenced
only to be used for charitable purposes with a clear public benefit.
Why is your work important?
By providing a flexible and efficient vehicle through which to give, we achieve our mission to
encourage charitable giving and increase the flow of funds into the charity sector. By removing
obstacles and complexities of giving, we believe that many people will give more and that others
who haven’t previously, will start to give. As well as providing our client services, Prism often acts as
a default educator for private client intermediaries on best practices in philanthropy.
How do you work with the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation?
In 2015 it became clear there was a need for a lead donor to have a charitable umbrella to pursue
fundraising to respond to a particular cause or crisis quickly. At Prism, we created an innovative and
dynamic solution – The Collective Fund. This unique service streamlines the process of groups of
donors giving ensuring funds are sent swiftly in times of crisis and need. The Tej Kohli & Ruit
Foundation is one of our brilliant Collective Funds operating under Prism’s regulatory roof. We’re
delighted to facilitate the work of Tej and his peers who are delivering life-changing support to those
with cataracts in countries like Nepal, Tunisia and Indonesia.
Tej’s mode of giving is one that I have high regard for. He is focused, and leads by example. As it
says in Ethics of the Fathers – “You are not obligated to finish the task, nor are you free to desist
Anna’s next article on the solutions to complex giving and an in-depth look at Collective Funds will
be published next week. For more information on Prism, please contact Amy Jakar at