2019 Donor-Advised Fund Report: Grants to Charities Exceed $23 Billion as Total Charitable Assets Surpass $121 Billion

National Philanthropic Trust’s 13th annual report reveals how tax reform, financial market fluctuations and heightened interest in philanthropy impacted DAF sector

JENKINTOWN, Pa.--()--The 2019 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the most comprehensive data on donor-advised funds (DAFs) in the U.S., reveals growth in key metrics for nine consecutive years. During the past five years, the number of DAFs in the U.S. has tripled and grant dollars from DAFs to charities has nearly doubled.

The 13th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report notes that grants from DAFs exceeded the $20 billion mark for the first time. Grants from DAFs to qualified charities totaled $23.42 billion, an 18.9 percent increase over the prior year. Total DAF assets available for grantmaking increased to $121.42 billion, an 8.3 percent year-over-year increase. Contributions to DAF accounts, which will be used for charitable purposes, grew 20.1 percent to $37.12 billion. Contributions to donor-advised funds represent 12.7 percent of all individual giving in the U.S.* National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the largest national independent donor-advised fund sponsor in the U.S., publishes the Donor-Advised Fund Report annually.

“This is the first Donor-Advised Fund Report that fully captures donors’ response to tax reform and its implications for charitable giving in December 2017, before the new laws were enacted,” said Eileen Heisman, President and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust. “Contributions to donor-advised funds outpaced grants for the first time in four years, which may indicate donors choosing to ‘bunch’ their giving—essentially pre-funding several years of charitable giving to make their philanthropy more tax effective. We can’t yet predict a definitive trendline, but it is clear DAFs are a philanthropic solution that many donors chose in response to the new tax laws. Donors created more individual DAF accounts than ever before and our report found record highs in every key metric.”

Key Report Findings
National Philanthropic Trust’s 13th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report identified growth in key metrics for the ninth consecutive year.

  • Grants from DAF accounts to qualified charities totaled $23.42 billion in 2018, an 18.9 percent increase compared to $19.70 billion in 2017. This represents the first time grants from DAFs exceeded $20 billion.
  • Contributions to DAFs totaled $37.12 billion, a 20.1 percent increase compared to $30.90 billion in 2017.
  • Charitable assets in all DAF accounts totaled $121.42 billion, an 8.3 percent increase compared to $112.10 billion in 2017. DAF assets surpassed the $100 billion mark for the second time and experienced continued growth momentum since 2010.
  • DAF accounts in the U.S. totaled 728,563, a 55.2 percent increase compared to 469,331 in 2017. DAFs remain the fastest growing giving vehicle in the U.S.
  • Grant payout rate to qualified charities decreased to 20.9 percent compared to 22.8 percent in 2017. Donor-advised funds continue to have a payout rate nearly four times higher than that of private foundations. The grant payout rate has exceeded 20 percent for every year on record.
  • Size of DAF accounts averaged $166,653, a 30.2 percent decrease compared to $238,857 in 2017. Two years of historic growth in number of DAF accounts resulted in this decrease.

“DAFs are evolving into the next generation giving vehicle-of-choice because they are flexible, easy to manage, convenient, and responsive. They are adaptable for both new and seasoned donors’ goals, blending traditional and emerging models of philanthropy,” said Heisman. “DAF donors are highly committed, engaged philanthropists. I see that reflected in the aggregate DAF data and in my day-to-day experience with NPT’s donors. They’re recommending more grant dollars than ever, choosing impact investments for their DAF’s charitable assets at an increasing rate, and donating complex assets, like business interests and real estate, to fund their philanthropic giving. It is inspiring when donors are creative while increasing their charitable impact.”

The complete 2019 DAF Report is available with no charge or login requirement at NPTrust.org/daf-report and upon request. Data attribution: National Philanthropic Trust, NPTrust.org.

* Individual giving in the U.S. is based on Giving USA 2019 data.

Methodology
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 2019 report examined 989 charitable organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds, including national charities, community foundations and other sponsoring charities. A glossary of terms can be found here.

About National Philanthropic Trust
Founded in 1996, National Philanthropic Trust is the largest, national, independent donor-advised fund sponsor and has made more than 273,000 grants totaling $6.8 billion to charities around the world. NPT has raised more than $13.5 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages $8.1 billion in charitable assets. NPT ranks among the largest grantmaking organizations in the US. NPT annually publishes the Donor-Advised Fund Report, the industry’s authority on the state of DAF giving. In 2016, NPT launched HistoryofGiving.org, the world’s first and most comprehensive digital narrative of the last 500 years in philanthropy. Learn more at NPTrust.org.

Contacts

MEDIA:
Richard Virgilio
richard@virgilio.media
973.879.9080

Release Summary

The 2019 Donor-Advised Fund Report: during the past five years, the number of DAFs in the U.S. has tripled, grant dollars nearly doubled.

Contacts

MEDIA:
Richard Virgilio
richard@virgilio.media
973.879.9080