NPT Releases Annual Donor-Advised Fund Report

Author National Philanthropic Trust

November 12, 2014

NPT released its annual Donor-Advised Fund Report, the most complete source for statistics on U.S. donor-advised funds (DAFs). The report, which uses the prior year’s data, found that 2013 was a record year for DAF growth.

The findings in key metrics—including the number of DAF accounts, grants from DAFs, contributions to DAFs and charitable assets under management—all grew considerably. In fact, most data points hit record numbers for the third year in a row.

The number of DAF accounts totals 217,367 an increase of 4.2 percent. Grantmaking from DAFs to qualified charities increased by 12.6 percent to a record high of $9.66 billion. Contributions to DAFs are up 23.5 percent to $17.28 billion; and charitable assets exceed $53 billion, an almost 20 percent growth.

The growth in grants is particularly noteworthy as it is nearly double the rate of growth from the prior year. The Fiscal Cliff, which occurred at the end of 2012, had an impact seen over two Donor-Advised Fund Reports due to the data subjects’ varying fiscal year-ends. We saw a major spike in contributions to DAFs in 2012 and 2013 as a result of the Fiscal Cliff, and we are just now starting to see the corresponding growth in grants catching up.

The grant payout rate (the rate at which grants are paid as calculated in relation to the charitable assets in a DAF account) dipped slightly from last year, but remains above 20 percent. The methodology for calculating the grant payout was revised this year to more closely replicate the way in which private foundations calculate their payouts. This creates more accurate reporting when comparing DAFs to private foundations.

Every dollar in DAFs is destined for charitable organizations. These record highs are good news for charities, their beneficiaries and other donors who support them.