Grants to Charities Exceed $15 Billion as Total Assets Increase 9.7% to $85 Billion: 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report

National Philanthropic Trust’s 11th annual industry report reveals grants from DAFs represent 4% of all individual giving. Illiquid assets and cryptocurrency contribute to seven consecutive years of growth in key metrics

DAFs by state (Graphic: Business Wire)

JENKINTOWN, Pa.--()--The 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the most comprehensive data on US donor-advised funds (DAFs), reveals grants from DAFs to qualified non-profits grew 16.9 percent to a record $15.07 billion. DAFs remain the fastest-growing giving vehicle in the US with 285,000 individual donor-advised fund accounts, a 2.6 percent increase from the prior year.

The 11th annual report finds growth in every key benchmark. Total assets available for grantmaking increased to $85.15 billion, a 10.4 percent year-over-year increase. Contributions to DAF accounts increased 7.6 percent to $23.63 billion. National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the largest national independent donor-advised fund sponsor in the US, publishes the Donor-Advised Fund Report annually.

“Donor-advised funds had another year of historic growth,” said Eileen Heisman, President and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust. “These vehicles are all about providing an efficient way for donors to give to the charities that mean the most to them. For the third year in a row, grant growth has outpaced contribution growth. Donors are actively using their DAFs to support charities domestically and around the globe after a period of extreme growth in DAF contributions and assets.”

Continued Heisman, “The DAF payout rate has remained higher than that of private foundations. More than ever, donors are invested in their charitable impact, short and long-term, and are using DAFs to do it.”

Illiquid assets are being converted to philanthropic capital in significant ways.

“At NPT, we see donors increasingly contribute complex assets, like restricted stock and real estate, to fund their philanthropy,” said Heisman. “We also see donors, likely millennials, opting to use cryptocurrency to build charitable assets in their DAFs. Only time, and possibly regulatory changes, will tell if this is a short- or long-term trend.”

Key Report Findings:

National Philanthropic Trust’s 11th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report identified significant growth in every metric for the sixth consecutive year. Key findings from the 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report:

Total charitable assets available for grantmaking in all DAF accounts reached $85.15 billion, a 9.7 percent increase compared to $77.63 billion in 2015, continuing a growth momentum since 2010
Grants from DAFs to qualified charities totaled $15.75 billion in 2016, a 10.4 percent from $14.26 billion the previous year, furthering a double-digit annual payout rate of 20.3 percent
Contributions to DAFs totaled $23.27 billion, a 7.6 percent increase from $21.62 billion in 2015
DAF accounts totaled 284,965 in the U.S., a 6.9 percent increase from 2015
Average size of DAF accounts reached a record $298,809, a 2.6 percent increase from 2015

Regional Analysis:

New in this year’s report, NPT is introducing geographic data related to DAFs assets, grants and sponsoring charities. Highlights include: the state with the highest number of individual DAFs is Massachusetts (82,643), which also has the highest grant value ($3.10 billion) and contributions ($5.18 billion) by state. DAF charitable assets under management are highest in California ($18.89 billion). Almost half of DAF accounts are sponsored by charities in three states: Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania.

Charitable Sponsor Analysis:

For the first time, the Donor-Advised Fund Report analyzed sub-categories for the three different types of DAF charitable sponsors: National Charities (serving donors across the country, such as NPT), Community Foundations (region-specific) and Single-Issue Charities (faith or mission-specific):

NPT analyzed each type of DAF sponsor by new metrics that further reflect the sponsoring charity and donors who select them. Data for National Charities was analyzed by the asset size at each DAF sponsor. For Single-Issue Charities, subcategorized by the primary “issue” they focus on, NPT found that Religious Identity DAF sponsors have a significant majority of all Single-Issue Charity assets, make the most grants and receive the most contributions. For Community Foundations, NPT looked at what types of communities they serve—from rural to major metropolitan populations.

Looking Forward:

“In 2016, grants from DAFs to qualified charities increased more quickly than contributions to DAFs. We predict this trend 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 fast-growing philanthropic vehicle and, more than ever, are being woven into the way Americans give.”

The complete 2017 DAF Report is available at no charge or login requirement at and upon request. Data credit: National Philanthropic Trust,


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 2017 report examined nearly 1,000 charitable organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds, including national charities, community foundations and other sponsoring charities.

About National Philanthropic Trust:
NPT is the largest national independent donor-advised fund sponsor and has raised $8 billion in charitable contributions. NPT currently manages $4.6 billion in charitable assets and has made more than 186,000 grants exceeding $4.4 billion to charities around the world. In 2016, NPT published, the most comprehensive narrative about the past 500 years of philanthropy, including rarely accessed images, videos and documents. More at


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


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