The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed slightly lower at the end of 2015, down 0.7 percent compared with the year-end close for 2014.4 The year-end result is a climb back from the summer 2015, when stock market values dropped suddenly. Investors worried about global markets and oil prices.5 However, the U.S. economy overall remained strong and grew 2.6 percent during the year, after adjusting for inflation. This economic growth rate remains just below the 40-year average (1974-2014) of 2.7 percent, but it is the highest rate of growth since 2008.6

In part because of that strong economic growth, in 2015, the official unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down from 6.2 percent the prior year.7 As a comparison, the unemployment rate for 2010, the first full year after the 2007-2009 recession ended, was 9.6 percent.8

For 2015, donor-advised funds saw substantial growth in every metric, including grant dollars, total contributions and charitable assets (Table 1).

Of particular note:

  • Grants from donor-advised funds to qualified charities totaled an estimated $14.52 billion, representing an increase of 16.9 percent compared to 2014, which is revised to $12.42 billion.
  • Contributions to donor-advised funds increased to $22.26 billion, or an 11.4 percent increase compared with the prior year’s contributions, which are revised to $19.98 billion.
  • Charitable assets in donor-advised funds grew by $8.36 billion in 2015 to $78.64 billion. This represents an 11.9 percent growth from a revised total of $70.27 billion last year. These numbers continue a trajectory of double-digit growth in charitable assets that began in 2010.
Table 1:Donor-Advised Fund Metrics Overview*
  2014 2015 % Change
Charitable Assets $ 70.27 Billion $ 78.64 Billion 11.9%
Total Contributions $ 19.98 Billion $ 22.26 Billion 11.4%
Total Grant Dollars $ 12.42 Billion $ 14.52 Billion 16.9%
Grant Payout** 21.7% 20.7%
Total # of DAF Accounts 242,390 269,180 11.1%
Average Size of DAF*** Account $ 216,760 $ 235,727 8.8%

* Values reflect 1,016 fund sponsors. Data were available for 932 for 2014 and for 339 for 2015. Estimates for others are included in these totals.

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

*** Average size of a DAF Account = Total Assets Under Management divided by Total Number of DAF Accounts.

  1. Dow Jones Industrial Averages closing information obtained from "Stock Market News for December 31, 2015." Zacks.com. Zacks Investment Research, 31 Dec. 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.
  2. Gillespie, Patrick. "Dow Closes Worst Year since 2008." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 31 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
  3. "Table 1.1.6. Real Gross Domestic Product, Chained Dollars." US Bureau of Economic Analysis. US Department of Commerce, 25 Sept. 2016. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "REGIONAL AND STATE UNEMPLOYMENT — 2015 ANNUAL AVERAGES." (2016): 1-13. 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "REGIONAL AND STATE UNEMPLOYMENT — 2010 ANNUAL AVERAGES." (2011): 1-13. 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.