2016 Donor-Advised Fund Report Identifies Growth in Key Metrics for 6th Consecutive Year: Grants to Charities Increase 16.9%, Total Assets Increase 11.9%

National Philanthropic Trust’s 10th annual report reveals contributions to DAFs represent a historic 8.4% of all individual giving in US, creating “new benchmark of impact for donor-advised funds”

JENKINTOWN, Pa.--()--The 2016 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the most comprehensive data on US donor-advised funds (DAFs), reveals grants from DAFs to qualified non-profits grew a record 16.9 percent in 2015.

Published annually by National Philanthropic Trust, the largest national, independent donor-advised fund sponsor in the US, the 2016 report identified substantial growth in every key benchmark. Total grants from DAFs reached a record $14.52 billion and DAF assets available for grantmaking grew to a new high of $78.64 billion. Donors’ contributions to DAFs also hit an all-time high of $22.26 billion, representing a historic 8.4 percent of total giving by Americans.

“For the first time in history, a DAF sponsor has surpassed the United Way as the largest charity in the country. While the motivations for giving have stayed the same for centuries, the methods have evolved,” said Eileen Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust. “Today’s donors are highly engaged in their giving. Baby Boomers and Millennials in particular want a close connection to their philanthropy and to track their charitable impact. DAFs provide the flexibility and management donors are seeking.”

Continued Heisman, “This shift in philanthropic strategies, from a dated federated funding model to contemporary DAFs, has occurred in the last 25 years. Similar to the Greatest Generation handing over the reins of the economy, the growth in popularity of DAFs is an example of how generations have shifted their approach to giving in America. The next generation wants to be closely connected to their philanthropy, which is reflected in the double-digit growth of DAFs. The steady grant payout rate across economic cycles demonstrates their dedication to giving.”

National Philanthropic Trust’s 10th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report identified significant growth in every metric for the fifth consecutive year. Key findings from the 2016 Donor-Advised Fund Report:

Total charitable assets available for grant making in all DAFs totaled $78.64 billion (11.9 percent increase compared to $70.27 billion in 2014, continuing a trajectory of double-digit growth every year since 2010)

Grants from DAFs to qualified charities totaled a record $14.52 billion (a 16.9 percent increase from $12.42 billion, furthering a double-digit annual payout rate of 20.7 percent for the 10th consecutive year, compared to the 5 percent mandatory minimum for foundations)

Contributions to DAFs totaled $22.26 billion (11.4 percent increase from $19.98 billion)

DAF accounts totaled 269,180 in the U.S. (11.1 percent increase from 242,390 accounts)

The average size of DAF accounts reached a record $235,727 (8.8 percent increase from $216,760)


“Grants from DAFs increased more quickly in 2015 than average over the prior five years, which we predict will continue,” said 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 dramatically growing philanthropic vehicle and are being woven into the American way of giving.”

The complete 2016 DAF Report is available at no charge or login requirement at NPTrust.org/daf-report and upon request. Data credit: National Philanthropic Trust, NPTrust.org.


National Philanthropic Trust’s Donor-Advised Fund Report has been published annually as a public service since 2006. It primarily uses data from IRS Form 990 filings to provide the most up-to-date and reliable analysis of the DAF market. The 2016 report examined 1,1016 charitable organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds, including national charities, community foundations and other sponsoring charities.

About National Philanthropic Trust

Marking its 20th Anniversary in 2016, NPT is the largest, national independent donor-advised fund sponsor and has raised $6.2 billion in charitable contributions. NPT currently manages $3 billion in charitable assets and has made more than 150,000 grants exceeding $3.6 billion to charities around the world. In 2016, NPT published HistoryofGiving.org, the most comprehensive narrative about the past 500 year of philanthropy, including rarely accessed images, videos and documents. More at NPTrust.org.


For National Philanthropic Trust:
Richard Virgilio, 973-879-9080


For National Philanthropic Trust:
Richard Virgilio, 973-879-9080