The tables below compare donor-advised fund accounts to private foundations. Donor-advised funds have outnumbered private foundations for several years.

Table 2 shows an estimated total of 284,965 donor-advised fund accounts in 2016 among all charitable sponsors included in this report. This number compares with an estimated 83,276 private foundations for the same year.

While there are nearly triple the amount of donor-advised funds than private foundations, the charitable assets they hold have the opposite relationship. There are nearly $85 billion in donor-advised funds and an estimated $750 billion in private foundations.

Grants from donor-advised funds to qualified charities totaled $15.75 billion in 2016, equating to roughly one- third (34.8 percent) of the estimated $45.15 billion granted by independent foundations to charities.

Table 2: Donor-Advised Fund Growth Compared with Private Foundation Growth
  2014 2015 2016
Donor-Advised Funds      
  Number of DAFs 240,960 266,584 284,965
  Assets $69.98 $77.63 $85.15
  Grantmaking $12.32 $14.26 $15.75
Private Foundations*      
  Number of foundations 79,729 81,483 83,276
  Assets 712.45 $728.83 $752.50
  Grantmaking 41.27 $43.73 $45.15*

Italics indicate an NPT estimate using compound annual growth rate for 2011 - 2014.

* The Foundation Center uses the term “independent foundation” for non-corporate private foundations.

Sources: NPT Donor-Advised Fund Report for donor-advised funds; Giving USA 2017; Foundation Center for foundations, except where estimated by NPT as noted.