Grants awarded from donor-advised funds in the United States totaled a record $15.75 billion in fiscal year 2016, a 10.4 percent increase from the previous year, a report from the National Philanthropic Trust finds.
Based on an analysis of data from nearly a thousand charitable organizations that sponsor DAFs, including national charities, community foundations, and other sponsoring charities, the NPT’s 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report found that contributions from DAFs increased 7.6 percent, to $23.27 billion, while total assets available for grantmaking grew 9.7 percent, to $85.15 billion. The aggregate payout rate by DAFs was 20.3 percent, down slightly from 2015, continuing a downward trend from a high of 24.7 percent in 2010.
According to the study, the total number of DAF accounts in the U.S. increased 6.9 percent in 2016, to 284,965, while the average account size grew 2.6 percent, to $298,809. Over the past decade, national charities and organizations affiliated with financial institutions have seen the fastest growth in DAF accounts, which numbered 165,758 in 2016; contributions from those accounts totaled $14.41 billion, while total charitable assets were $44.68 billion and grant dollars awarded totaled $8.08 billion. The report also found that DAF accounts at community foundations numbered 69,587 in 2016, with contributions totaling $5.66 billion, assets totaling $29.8 billion, and grant dollars awarded totaling $4.76 billion. And DAFs at single-issue charities numbered 49,620 in 2016, with contributions totaling $3.2 billion, assets totaling $10.67 billion, and grant dollars awarded totaling $2.91 billion.
"In 2016, grants from DAFs to qualified charities increased more quickly than contributions to DAFs. We predict this trend will continue," said NPT president and CEO Eileen Heisman. "DAF accounts outnumber private foundations by three to one, and we also predict this trend will continue as donors grow more knowledgeable about using DAFs to implement their charitable vision. NPT sees illiquid asset donations as an increasing source of philanthropy, from complex securities and hedge funds to real estate and antiques. DAFs are a fast-growing philanthropic vehicle and, more than ever, are being woven into the way Americans give."
“Grants to Charities Exceed $15 Billion as Total Assets Increase 9.7% to $85 Billion: 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report.” National Philanthropic Trust Press Release 11/14/2017.