Charles Schwab & Co., San Francisco, this week unveiled an independent public charitable gift fund.

Launched Wednesday, the Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving allows donors to set up an account with a minimum initial donation of $10,000 in cash or securities. The funds are invested in one of three mutual fund pools -- growth, balanced, or preservation -- until dispersed to IRS-registered charities.

Contributions are tax-deductible, and donors can direct how the funds are invested and when and to whom they are disbursed. Participants do not have to have a Schwab brokerage account.

Charitable gift funds have proven popular with customers of other investment companies, such as Fidelity Investments, Boston, and Vanguard Group, Valley Forge, Pa. A gift fund offered through Fidelity, for instance, manages $1.6 billion in assets.

What makes Schwab's fund different is an educational element, said Margaret Ross, the fund's executive director. Donors can get strategic advice from phone representatives or through the fund's Web site, which offers general information about philanthropy as well as links to information concerning specific non-profit organizations. Schwab's fund family has slightly more than $100 billion in assets under management.

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