$6.5 Billion Granted Via Just 5 Donor Advised Funds

February 16, 2016       Mark Hrywna      

Grants by the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) were up almost 24 percent last year, as donors recommended more than 25,000 grants, totaling some $643.7 million in grant dollars.

The Jenkintown, Pa.-based donor-advised fund (DAF) sponsor announced totals for calendar year 2015 grantmaking. The average grant was $26,750, with donors supporting 13,756 charities in the United States and internationally.

“Donor-advised funds are the fastest growing vehicle for a reason. They are easy to create and manage and give donors the opportunity to streamline their philanthropic vision,” Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of NPT, said via a press statement.

NPT ranks as one of the largest grantmaking institutions in the U.S. Since its founding in 1996, the sponsor has raised more than $5.9 billion in charitable contributions and made more than 136,000 grants to charities exceeding $3.2 billion. The organization manages $2.7 billion in charitable assets. It’s the trustee of NPT Charitable Asset Trust, which specializes in converting illiquid donations like appreciated securities, real estate and art into charitable funding.

Vanguard Charitable also announced that the number of grants was up by 14 percent, to more than 64,000, shared among almost 28,000 charities. Of the nonprofits awarded, 7,000 were first-time recipients.

Vanguard averaged nearly $60,000 granted per DAF account last year and overall awarded $717 million, up 8 percent from $663 million in 2014.

Education saw the highest proportion of grants by Vanguard, about 27 percent, followed by human services, 23 percent, and religion, 13 percent. Vanguard Charitable donors recommended 20 percent of the 2015 total during June and July.

Three other DAFs recently announced their estimated grantmaking for 2015 and all saw significant increases compared to 2014:

Combined, the five DAFs granted almost $6.5 billion in 2015, almost 16 percent more than the $5.6 billion they distributed in 2014.

Grants made through all DAFs hit an all-time high of $12.49 billion in 2014, accounting for 5.5 percent of all gifts to charities, according to NPT’s 2015 Donor-Advised Fund Report. Total DAF accounts that year were 238,293, with an average size of just less than $300,000. Contributions to DAFs totaled $19.66 billion, up 14 percent, while grant dollars awarded were up 27 percent. The 2016 report, which will detail the DAF industry’s numbers for 2015, is expected to be published in November.