Dear Colleague:

NPT is proud to publish our tenth annual Donor-Advised Fund Report. As NPT celebrates this milestone along with the 20th anniversary of our founding, we invite readers to learn more about donor-advised funds, why they have experienced such tremendous growth and what makes them so popular.

The 2016 Donor-Advised Fund Report uses 2015 fiscal year data from 1,016 charities. For the sixth consecutive year, there was growth in all key metrics—number of individual donor-advised funds, total grant dollars from them, total contributions to them and total charitable assets in them.

For the second year in a row, the most significant one-year growth is reflected in grants. Grantmaking from donor-advised funds to qualified charities jumped nearly 17 percent between 2014 and 2015, from $12.42 billion to a record $14.52 billion. We predicted this growth in last year’s report and believe that grantmaking will continue to rise as new donors grow accustomed to using a donor-advised fund for their charitable giving.

In addition to a record grant total, contributions to donor-advised funds also hit an all-time high of $22.26 billion in 2015, representing 8.4 percent of total individual giving in the US—also a new high. Contributions helped increase total donor-advised fund assets beyond $78 billion.

We further analyze this aggregate data by subcategorizing the donor-advised fund charitable sponsors into three groups -- National Charities, Community Foundations and Single-Issue Charities. Highlights by charitable sponsors include:

  • The rate of growth for the number of individual donor-advised funds, contributions, assets and grantmaking is highest at National Charities
  • Payout rates are highest at Single-Issue Charities
  • Average account sizes are highest at Community Foundations.

Donor-advised fund charitable sponsors are found in every state in the US, in every asset size and have wide ranges of program features. The common thread is that their donors use donor-advised funds to give generously to the causes that mean the most to them.

National Philanthropic Trust has been tracking donor-advised fund data for a decade. Record numbers for donor-advised funds continue to set new benchmarks for the donors who use them and reshape the charitable giving landscape.

Regards,
Eileen R. Heisman
President & CEO

This report was prepared by National Philanthropic Trust under the guidance of Eileen R. Heisman, President and CEO; Andrew W. Hastings, Chief Development Officer; Erin H. Hoyes, Associate Director of Communications and NPT’s Communications Department. Melissa S. Brown of Melissa S. Brown Associates, LLC provided analysis and additional writing services. Emily Sullivan and members of NPT’s staff provided research assistance.

NPT gratefully acknowledges all of the organizations that shared their donor-advised fund related statistics and information. For permission to cite or reproduce this report, please contact Brian Case, NPT’s Vice President of Communications, at bcase@nptrust.org or 215.277.3010.