Episode 35: 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report
Fresh Research

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, covering the 2019 fiscal year, showed a continued decade of growth across the board, exceeding $25 billion in grants for the first time.

Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust in Jenkintown, Pa., joins this episode to discuss the 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report and the  Donor-Advised Fund COVID Grantmaking Survey.

Published each year since 2006,  the latest DAF report showed:

  • Contributions up 7.5 percent to almost $39 billion;
  • Value of grants up 15.4 percent to $27.37 billion;
  • Assets up 16.2 percent to almost $142 billion; and,
  • Number of accounts up 19.4 percent to 873,228.

In the past 10 years, the number of DAF accounts grew almost 300 percent while the value of DAF accounts averaged $162,556, a decrease of 2.7%.

The Donor-Advised Fund Report does not cover 2020. For that, we discuss NP Trust’s Donor-Advised Fund COVID Grantmaking Survey. It is the first sector-wide review of grantmaking from DAFs to charities in response to COVID-19, using self-reported data by 13 DAF sponsors at the end of 2020. Collectively, this group represents almost 50 percent of total DAF charitable grant dollars annually and includes national charities and community foundation DAF sponsors.

The survey shows that grantmaking to qualified charities increased by almost 30 percent during the first six months of 2020, to more than $8.3 billion. Every subsector but arts and culture — down 9 percent — saw a substantial increase in the value of DAF grants during the first six months of 2020.

During a portion of the discussion about DAF payout rates (20:12), Heisman refers to a paper by Dan Heist and Danielle Vance-McMullen that was featured on a previous episode of Fresh Research.