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Vanguard, BNY Mellon Report Boosted Gift Distributions

Holders of charity giving accounts are loosening the purse strings. Donor-advised fund sponsor Vanguard Charitable reported grants increased 14% during the first half of 2022, reaching a record $952 million. For 12 months ending June 30, 2022, donors gave what Vanguard representatives said was a record $1.9 billion to nonprofits. 

At BNY Mellon Wealth Management, full-year results for 2021 were 27% more than 2020 in terms of total dollar amount of gifts, and 15% higher in average gift size, according to BNY Wealth Management’s Annual Charitable Gift Report.

Vanguard Charitable account holders made 83,838 grants with an average amount of $11,354, up 7% and 6%, respectively, from first-half 2021. Part of the distribution boost among Vanguard’s account holders was attributable to the unique humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Ukraine relief-focused nonprofits received nearly $60 million during the first half of 2022. Including Ukraine nonprofits, Vanguard account holders made:

  • Nearly 26,000 grants, totaling 31% of overall giving and a 24% increase over the first half of 2021;
  • More than 20,000 religion-focused grants, amounting to 25% of overall giving;
  • More than 12,000 education grants, or 15% of overall giving; and,
  • More than 9,000 health-related grants, totaling 11% of overall giving.

Top nonprofits supported included Direct Relief, Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, UNICEF and World Central Kitchen.

“Giving must continue during times of economic uncertainty to support those most in need, but maintaining a giving strategy is not always easy to do during these times,” Vanguard Charitable President Rebecca Moffett said via a statement. “Our donors understand this and remain committed to giving due to the flexible nature of DAFs. The increase in granting we have seen so far this year exemplifies how our donors continue to provide a sustainable pipeline of funding to the cause areas and charities close to their hearts.”

Vanguard Charitable boosted the visibility of hunger- and homelessness-related nonprofits in December 2021 when it launched NAVi for Hunger & Homelessness, a web-based tool that facilitates connections between donors and local nonprofits that address these issues. In part due to the new tool, Vanguard Charitable account holders have given $219 million to nonprofits supporting hunger and homelessness, a 4% increase compared to the previous year, including $12 million more than the previous year to nonprofits specifically addressing hunger, a 12% year-over-year increase. Distributions included nearly 1,000 more individual grants to nonprofits fighting hunger and homelessness when compared to the previous year.

Within BNY Mellon Wealth Management, giving increased in 2021 when compared to 2020’s level. But the 507 gifts totaling $55 million from charitable gift annuities (CGAs) in 2021 lagged behind pre-COVID 2019 when 617 gifts totaling $67.9 million were made, report data show. The uptick in 2021 was over 460 gifts totaling $43 million made in 2020, according to the data.

The report reflects CGA and charitable remainder trust (CRT) activity of the BNY Mellon Charitable Gift Fund, which held 963 funded accounts as of Dec. 31, 2021.

“The financial markets held strong in 2021 and the planned giving activity demonstrated how sustainable the giving increase in 2020 was – and even with the present market uncertainty, people don’t stop giving,” Crystal Thompkins, head of philanthropic solutions at BNY Mellon Wealth Management said via a release.

CGAs of more than $100,000 represented just 29% of total contracts in 2021 but accounted for 85% of total gift dollars. Gifts between $10,000 and $50,000 made up the majority (54%) of 2021 contracts, the same as in 2020.

New CGAs by monetary value last year predominantly went to educational organizations (61%), followed by gifts directed to social services (26%), healthcare (6%), faith-based, religious organizations (5%) and cultural (2%). Gifts in 2021 were overwhelmingly in cash (83%), versus 17% as non-cash gifts.

With charitable trusts, report data shows, there was a 33% increase in new trust activity year over year although total gift amounts decrease and the dollar amount of additions to trusts decreased by 50%.

The BNY Mellon Charitable Gift Fund in 2021 saw high gift activity with donor advised funds (DAFs), likely fueled, in part, by engagement of dormant donors prior to COVID, report authors point out.

DAFs managed by BNY Mellon accounted for what report authors said led to record high gifts of $136,350,103 in 2021, a leap from $87,629,062 in 2020. But, the average gift dropped from $45,007 in 2020 to $36,263 in 2021.

The report included an overview of results of a survey – conducted by BNY Mellon and Brown Yardley Research – of 200 high-net-worth investors with at least $5 million in assets under management.

Other takeaways from the survey include:

  • Almost two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) agree their giving strategy is part of their overall wealth strategy
  • 42% say their giving strategy has changed over the past two years
  • Healthcare and medical research tops the list of supported causes by high-net-worth individuals, followed by social services then education

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