From 2012 to 2013, the U.S. economy grew 2.2 percent, after adjusting for inflation. This is a markedly lower rate of growth than the 60-year average annual inflation-adjusted growth rate of 3.4 percent from 1948 to 2007, but is a positive movement from the extremely low rate of 1.8 percent recorded for 2011.5

In 2013, the official unemployment rate was 7.4 percent -- down considerably from the 8.1 percent rate in 2012, but still historically high. As a comparison, the 2007 pre-recession employment rate was 4.6 percent.6

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by more than 25 percent in 2013, after adjusting for inflation, closing at 16,576.66. This surpasses the prior year-end high of just over 13,260.7

Donor-advised funds saw substantial growth in almost every metric, including grant dollars, total contributions and charitable assets. (Table 1) These increases coincided with stock market values for investments to create record highs.

Of particular note:

  • Grantmaking from donor-advised fund accounts to qualified charities totaled an estimated $9.66 billion, representing an increase of 12.6 percent compared with 2012, which is revised to $8.58 billion.
  • Contributions to donor-advised fund accounts increased to $17.28 billion, or a 23.5 percent increase compared with the prior year’s contributions, which are revised to $13.99 billion.
  • Charitable assets in donor-advised fund accounts grew by $8.89 billion in 2013; total charitable assets available for grantmaking in all donor-advised fund accounts were an estimated $53.74 billion. This is an increase of 19.8 percent from a revised total of $44.85 billion last year. These numbers continue a trajectory of growth in charitable assets above 15 percent annually that began in 2012.
Table 1:Donor-Advised Fund Metrics Overview*
  2012 2013 % change
Charitable Assets $ 44.85 Billion $ 53.74 Billion 19.8%
Total Contributions $ 13.99 Billion $ 17.28 Billion 23.5%
Total Grant Dollars $ 8.58 Billion $ 9.66 Billion 12.6%
Grant Payout** 22.5% 21.5% -4.4%
Total # of DAF Accounts 205,552 217,367 5.7%
Average Size of DAF*** Account $ 218,054 $ 247,217 13.4%

* Values reflect 1,018 fund sponsors, of which 1,012 had data for both 2012 and 2013.

** Grant Payout = Grant Dollars divided by Charitable Assets at end of prior year x 100 to get a percentage.

*** Donor Advised Fund. This average is the Total Assets Under Management divided by the Total Number of DAF Accounts.

  1. All growth percentages calculated using “GDP in billions of chained 2009 dollars” in the table for national Gross Domestic Product values released September 25, 2014 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) average unemployment rate, civilian labor force 16 years and over (percent), not seasonally adjusted, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat01.pdf. Accessed October 16, 2014.
  3. Figures taken from Dow Jones Averages, closing figure, http://www.1stock1.com/1stock1_139.htm, accessed October 16, 2014. Inflation adjustment uses Personal Consumption Expenditures Index used by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov.