Donor-Advised Fund Researchers Seeking Data
Donor-Advised Fund Researchers Seeking Data

A donor-advised fund (DAF) research consortium is soliciting DAF-sponsoring organizations to share data for a research program aimed at qualifying the characteristics and activities of DAFs. The consortium, The Donor Advised Fund Research Collaborative (DAFRC), is also seeking philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) to serve as outreach partners.

The study will combine data from DAF-sponsoring organizations across the United States, such as community foundations, national sponsors and religious-affiliated sponsors. The aim is to provide transparency into the ways individuals and households use DAFs, DAF donor responses to changes in the giving environment such as economic fluctuations or societal disruptions such as war or pandemics, and differences in DAF participation among key donor groups, such as high-net-worth donors or millennials.

Leaders at participating DAF-sponsoring organizations will be asked to submit deidentified account-level data. Information requested includes select account characteristics such as opening date and account ending transaction balance and nine years (2014-2022) of transaction data, including asset, contribution and grant information. The deidentified data will be securely stored within the GivingTuesday Data Commons. Exported data will be pooled and harmonized to enhance anonymity. The original data can be deleted at the request of the sponsor. 

Individual participants will be able to benchmark their data against the anonymized national pool of participant data. Access to the data will be limited to the four academic collaborators leading the study: Dr. Dan Heist (Brigham Young University), Dr. Danielle Vance-McMullen (DePaul University), Jeff Williams (Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University) and Dr. Brittany Kienker (Kienker Consulting LLC).

The DAFRC is supported by a $750,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Donor advised funds are not monolithic. We want to dispel the narrative that all DAFs are the same. By looking at nationwide data and working to understand how these funds operate, we can empower practitioners, communities, and donors to use them to benefit all,” Elizabeth Boris, institute fellow, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, said via a statement. Boris is one of several members of an advisory council aiding the DAFRC with the study.

Information is being gathered through March 2023. DAF sponsors interested in participating can indicate their interest here: https://bit.ly/3hVy95z 

Philanthropy serving organizations will find additional information on how they can assist with the study here: https://bit.ly/3AtH9p0 

The end product, The National Study on Donor Advised Funds, will be released later in 2023. Earlier research from the DAFRC is available here