Comparison of Projections and Results for 2015

Grants

In last year’s Donor-Advised Fund Report, we predicted that growth in donor-advised fund charitable assets would result in greater grantmaking, which this year’s data supports. Grantmaking increased overall and at each type of charity offering donor-advised funds.

As part of our grantmaking prediction, we also noted that grants from donor-advised fund at National Charities would rise significantly. They rose by a substantial 29.8 percent between 2014 and 2015. Grants from donor-advised fund at Community Foundations and Single-Issue Charities rose less quickly, at 3.0 percent and 9.4 percent respectively.

Contributions

In our last report, we predicted contributions to donor-advised fund would continue to rise following two years of extreme growth. This prediction proved correct for National Charities, where contributions increased 20.4 percent.

However, Community Foundations saw a decline in new contributions in 2015, compared with 2014. This appears to be due to three of the six largest community foundations experiencing significant declines in contributions, which negatively affected the aggregate data for all Community Foundations.

What Lies Ahead?

The last several years have seen a tremendous growth in all donor-advised fund metrics, but particularly in contributions. The five-year compound annual growth rate from 2010 to 2014 was almost 21 percent. Uncertainty about tax policy, the political environment and other market conditions fueled this growth. We predict continued growth in contributions to donor-advised funds, but likely at a much lower rate.

As contributions level out, we predict a continued increase in grantmaking and rise in payout rates. Grants grew almost 17 percent between 2014 and 2015. The five-year compound annual growth rate from 2010 to 2014 was at 14.5 percent. Already, we are seeing this increase in grantmaking and we expect it will continue.

This report does not collect data on the types of contributions to donor-advised funds, however, we anticipate that donors will continue funding their donor-advised fund with illiquid gifts. We observe donors are turning complex assets—such as closely-held stock, real estate and personal property—into charitable dollars. This trend is directly related to economic growth, where events like mergers and acquisitions, companies going public and increased real estate values are creating new wealth. We anticipate that this will play a role in increasing contributions to all donor-advised fund charities in the coming years.

The projections noted above are based on NPT’s experience and anecdotal evidence over the past year, in addition to observed economic and political conditions.

Summary

All types of charities that offer donor-advised funds reported growth in each key metric in 2015. Grantmaking increased by almost 17 percent, which is the second fastest rate of growth in the past six years. Aggregate payout rates have been above 20 percent since we first started collecting data in 2007. This suggests that donors who use this type of charitable giving vehicle are supporting philanthropic organizations and the public good with a consistent level of grantmaking, regardless of economic conditions.