March 27, 2024

What Nonprofits are Saying About DAFs

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are an increasingly popular charitable giving vehicle thanks to their flexibility and ease of use. Almost every year since 2009, grantmaking from DAFs has increased in number and value, reaching a record high in 2022 with $52.16 billion in giving.

Advisors and donors have known about DAFs’ advantages for years, and nonprofits have felt the value inherent in DAFs through the impact of DAF-driven grantmaking.

Throughout the year, we connect with nonprofit organizations across the United States to discuss the impact of DAFs on their missions and share stories of our Grants in Action. Below, hear directly from nonprofit leaders on the benefit of DAF granting:

Nonprofit Leaders’ Insights on DAFs

DAF donors are actively engaged in their philanthropy.

  • “I’ve found that people with DAFs are more likely to be engaged and have a bit more of a personal relationship [with the cause].” – Larissa May, Founder and Executive Director of #HalftheStory, who reports that roughly 25% of the organization’s funding comes through DAFs.
  • “Donors who give through channels like donor-advised funds are seeing the big picture.” – Dana Marlowe, Founder, I Support the Girls
  • “What I really appreciate about DAF donors is their intention to make investments in the world. There’s clearly a change they want to see or a narrative they want to be a part of.” – Stuart Allen, Chief Marketing and Advancement Officer, Mental Health America

The consistency of DAF grantmaking helps support nonprofits as they expand programming and scope.

  • DAFs are particularly helpful when it comes to “building the technical capacity of our partners, growing and monitoring our impact assessment program, our environmental education programs and community events.” – Laura Johnson, Major Gifts Officer, One Tree Planted
  • “Funds from DAFs enable the Kerlan to broaden the scope of the collection as well as make more of it available to a broad audience.” – Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection
  • “As a national organization, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation has benefited from donor-advised funds that help connect our work with individuals and funders based in areas where we might have limited visibility or philanthropic engagement otherwise. While arts philanthropy continues to grow and change, we appreciate the opportunities that DAFs offer us to build more resources for the Native artists and culture bearers at the heart of our organization’s purpose.” – Mandy Yeahpau (Comanche/Cherokee/Tarahumara), Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation
  • “Some of our biggest signature programs at the New England Aquarium, including BlueSwell, have been supported by DAFs. They play a critical role in supporting our mission beyond the walls of the aquarium. We’re doing work all around the globe aimed at making the ocean healthier, and donor-advised funds have been critical to making it happen.” – Dr. John Mandelman, Vice President and Chief Scientist for the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, BlueSwell

Grantmaking from DAFs is becoming an increasingly significant part of nonprofits’ annual income.

  • “We really do count on support from DAFs. Currently it brings in about 12% of our total revenue, which is significant to this work in our community.” – Carolyn Bishop-Seder, Major Gifts Officer, Greater Chicago Food Depository
  • With Help Heal Veterans’ “back to pre-pandemic levels of need” from veterans and facing rising costs due to inflation, giving vehicles like DAFs can be “a major part of solving that problem.” – Kristen O. Bennett, Vice President of Development, Help Heal Veterans
  • “Probably close to a quarter of our donated revenue comes through DAFs now and it’s absolutely an important part of our revenue stream,” – Matt Forti, U.S. Managing Director at One Acre Fund

Grants from donor-advised funds are making a difference for thousands of nonprofits across the country and around the world. For more stories about nonprofits and the impact of donor-advised funds, visit our Grants In Action page.