Episode 14: Donor-Advised Fund Grants During Recessions

Episode 14: Donor-Advised Fund Grants During Recessions

Donor-advised funds (DAF) have become one of the fastest-growing vehicles for philanthropy in the past decade. They also have become a lightning rod in the debate about charitable giving, described by skeptics as a “Wall Street takeover of charity.”

Other critics argue that that donors can receive a tax deduction for contributions to their DAF account but the money can potentially be years away from going to an actual charity. There also can be issues of transparency when it comes to donors and tracking specific distributions and contributions.

Danielle Vance-McMullen and Dan Heist join this episode of the Fresh Research podcast to discuss their recent paper, “Understanding Donor-Advised Funds: How Grants Flow During Recessions,” in which they examine payout rates and flow rates of DAFs over the past decade. A .pdf of the 51-page paper can be found here and executive summary here.

The paper compiled Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data over a 10-year period (2007-2016). Almost 1,000 DAF sponsors were examined among three categories: national, community foundations, and special issue. Growth during this time has been dominated by commercial DAF sponsors but community foundations often feature the oldest DAFs.

Vance-McMullen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in public and nonprofit administration at the University of Memphis. Heist recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and will be a professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Grant distributions via DAFs is resilient during a recession, according to the authors, either “remaining constant or decreasing only slightly even when contributions and asset levels both drop precipitously.” The median flow rate was 85 percent. Median payout rates and flow rates vary by sponsor types and sizes of DAF sponsors. National sponsors had the highest payout rate, an average 22 percent, but lowest flow rate, about 70 percent. Community foundation DAFs had median payout rates of 10 percent while single-issue charities had the highest.

Episode 45: The Charitable Tax Deduction & Civic Engagement...

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Nonprofits have been pushing for a universal charitable deduction for years. The CARES Act created a temporary tax deduction for charitable gifts up to $300 for single or married filers in 2020. Congress extended that into 2021 and increased the deduction to $600 for married couples. Two professors at the University of Virginia proposed a […]

Episode 44: Regulating CEO Pay...

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When the Nonprofit Revitalization Act passed in 2013, it was the first major overhaul of nonprofit regulations in New York State in 40 years. The legislation modernized rules around nonprofit boards and committees and, among other things, prohibited nonprofit officers from being present at meetings where their pay is discussed. In the years since, a […]

Episode 43: Checking Out Charity...

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You finish up your shopping and the cashier asks, “Would you like to donate to a local charity?” Do you give? If you do, how much? Or maybe they ask you, would you like to round up your total to donate the difference? Those are some of the scenarios in a recent experiment. Results of […]

Episode 42: Bitcoin and the Future Of Fundraising...

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The American Cancer Society aims to raise $1 million exclusively through cryptocurrency. Its Cancer Crypto Fund will be renamed in honor of the first donor to contribute $250,000. Donations of at least $10,000 will appear on the Cancer Crypto Fund Wall of Honor. The Salvation Army launched a cryptocurrency option the week before Christmas and […]

Episode 41: Multi-Channel Donor Communications...

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Research shows that multi-channel donors can be worth more than donors who give only online or only offline. But do nonprofits treat multi-channel donors like they’re worth two or three times more to their organization? A recent experiment looked at how nonprofits respond after a gift and the results could surprise you. Gabe Cooper,  CEO […]

Episode 40: The Great DAF Debate...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) have dominated philanthropy in any number of ways over the past decade, whether it’s increasing charitable contributions, boosting assets, or simply garnering attention within the public square. That could be why it takes a super sized episode of Fresh Research tackle the topic. This episode diverges from the usual format; instead of […]

Episode 39: Best Nonprofits To Work For 2021...

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Even for the Best Nonprofits To Work For, 2020 was a difficult year. The United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Section (USTA MAS) rarely has any voluntary turnover among its 21 employees. But like at many nonprofits, the pandemic forced difficult decisions. The organization laid off about one-third of its staff in July. It was among […]

Bonus Episode: Charitable Crowdfunding...

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A new report examines how crowdfunding fits into the larger philanthropic landscape and perceptions of crowdfunding by both crowdfunding donors and non-crowdfunding donors while also looking at charitable behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why? by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, uses data from […]

Episode 38: A Year Into The Pandemic...

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For a lot of nonprofits, it’s been a year of working remotely, replacing in-person events with virtual events and trying to make it through the next quarter. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Pam Keough would have described herself as one of those bosses who believes everyone needs to be in the office. Now, it’s not so […]

Episode 37: Outlook for Charitable Giving...

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Early indicators show that charitable giving was up in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Projections for giving in 2021 and 2022 are even rosier. Charitable giving is expected to increase 4.1% this year, buoyed by individual giving (+6%), and another 5.7% in 2022 on the strength of increased giving via foundations (+8.8%) and […]

Episode 36: Blackbaud Institute Charitable Giving Report...

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Overall giving rose 2% in 2020 compared to 2019 while online donations grew 21%, according to the Blackbaud Institute Charitable Giving Report. Steve MacLaughlin, vice president, production management, at Blackbaud, visits this episode of the Fresh Research podcast to break down the data and what you need to know about 2020 giving. The report is […]

Episode 35: 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) in 2019 continued their meteoric growth over the past decade and in the first half of 2020 — amidst the coronavirus pandemic — grantmaking by DAFs increased by almost 30 percent. The 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report is the most comprehensive data on donor-advised funds (DAFs) in the United States. The latest report, […]

Episode 34: Nonprofit Jobs Report...

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Since 1.6 million nonprofit jobs were lost in the three months after the pandemic was declared, steady growth in nonprofit jobs each month was derailed in December, wiping out nearly two months of gains. It’s projected to take 1.5 years for the sector to recover entirely but within most fields it could be a year […]

Episode 33: Effects of overhead on donor decisions...

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If there was a list of dirty words for the nonprofit sector, overhead would likely be number one on the list. In spite of efforts like The Overhead Myth, it can still be a source of frustration for nonprofit employees and executives yet donors still seem to be hung up on the phrase. Ellie Heng […]

Episode 32: The 2020 NPT 100...

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The nation’s largest nonprofits reported aggregate revenue of $86.4 billion in 2019, which is up 1 percent over the previous year. Those figures come from The NonProfit Times‘ 2020 NPT 100 report, a study of the largest nonprofits in the United States. Jacob Harold, executive vice president at Candid, shares his insights during a discussion about […]

Episode 31: Unlocking Generosity with AI...

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The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is exploding and the next few years will be huge for nonprofits in adopting the technology as a strategic tool, from the program side to the fundraising side. Authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine join this episode of The NonProfit Times‘ Fresh Research podcast to discuss their paper, “Unlocking […]

Episode 30: Charitable Estate Gifts...

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It’s nothing new to fundraisers and planned gift officers that women and childless couples are the prime prospects for bequests and other estate gifts. New research suggests that those are still huge factors in the process but timing your nonprofit’s communication based on recency of gifts might be exactly the wrong way to go. Russell […]

Episode 29: Charity Navigator Encompass Rating System...

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Charity Navigator this month unveiled the first pillar of its new rating system. Years in the making, the Encompass Rating System (ERS) expands the number of charities rated from 9,000 to almost 160,000. President and CEO Michael Thatcher joins the Fresh Research podcast to explain the four “beacons” that will comprise the 100-point rating system: […]

Episode 28: How Civic Engagement Changes in Times of Crisis...

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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the nonprofit sector in a number of ways. What effect COVID-19 might have on charitable behavior, like volunteering, remains to be seen. In this episode, we talk to Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a senior researcher at its Do Good […]

Episode 27: Generosity Across Income And Wealth...

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The percentage of household income given to charity each year generally runs about 2 percent across most income levels, but goes up with wealth, according to a new research paper.   Benjamin Priday, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University, joined the Fresh Research podcast to discuss, “Generosity Across Income and […]