Dear Colleague:

NPT is proud to publish our 11th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report.

The 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report uses 2010 through 2016 fiscal year data from nearly 1,000 charities. For the seventh 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. As expected, the rate of growth has slowed after several robust years of double-digit percentage growth.

In 2016, there were approximately 285,000 individual donor-advised funds across the country. Donors contributed $23 billion to these donor-advised funds and used them to recommend almost $16 billion in grants to qualified charities. Both grants and contributions are record highs. Charitable assets in donor-advised funds totaled $85 billion, an increase of 9.7 percent over the prior year. This growth reflects increased contributions to donor-advised fund accounts (up by 7.6 percent) and investment gains.

This report shows subcategories of the donor-advised fund charitable sponsors in three groups -- National Charities, Community Foundations and Single-Issue Charities. We are particularly excited about new analysis that further identifies trends within each group, including:

  • Contributions to donor-advised funds at all National Charities combined are up 15 percent. However, contributions declined at those with $5 billion or more in charitable assets, meaning other donor-advised fund charitable sponsors are growing at a faster pace.
  • We analyzed Community Foundations by the type of communities they serve—from major metropolitan to rural areas. The same number of Community Foundations sponsor donor-advised funds in major metropolitan areas as in rural areas. Yet when it comes to the number of individual donor-advised funds at each type, there are nearly eight times the number in major metropolitan areas as in rural areas.
  • Religious Identity charities constitute the largest subcategory of Single-Issue Charities. They reflect the largest portion of every metric, including number of donor-advised fund accounts, contributions, grants and charitable assets.

There are donor-advised fund charitable sponsors in every state across the U.S., as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A new map gives more insight into the distribution of donor-advised fund charitable sponsors that we analyze.

National Philanthropic Trust has tracked donor-advised fund data for over a decade. The consistent growth trends demonstrate that donor-advised funds and the philanthropists who use them have a significant impact on charitable giving around the country. I hope that you find this report informative and transparent.

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, Director of Communications and NPT’s Communications Department. Melissa S. Brown of Melissa S. Brown Associates, LLC provided analysis and additional writing services. Ethan Wollman and Michael Matt provided research assistance. We thank Dan Heist, University of Pennsylvania doctoral candidate in social policy, for his work on this year’s study.

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 or 215.277.3010.