December 9, 2021

Your Seasonal Guide to Year-End Giving in 2021

Author National Philanthropic Trust

Giving Season is an important time of year for philanthropists and nonprofits alike, and that is no exception in 2021. As the world continues to evolve with the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, donors are re-examining their giving strategies, strengthening long-term charitable commitments or looking for new ways to make an impact.

Some things remain the same, however, such as year-end deadlines. These are a priority when it comes to contributing to or making grants from your donor-advised fund (DAF). These time-sensitive deadlines are essential for claiming your 2021 tax deduction, and they’re also vitally important for the charities and nonprofits you care about.

As 2021 winds down, remember that NPT is here to help you every step of the way with your year-end giving. Here are some important thoughts to consider as you plan and prepare in the coming weeks:

Be Aware of Year-End Deadlines

Whether you plan to use your DAF like you have in years prior, or you want to switch things up for 2021, consider Giving Season Central your main source for all things year-end.

This resource hub has all the information you need this season for critical contribution and grantmaking deadlines, and it also provides resources to help you navigate your year-end giving with a donor-advised fund.

Consider Unrestricted Giving

One of the biggest philanthropic shifts throughout the pandemic has been the rise of unrestricted giving. The no-strings-attached donor approach is a central component of trust-based philanthropy, allowing nonprofits the freedom to use donations where they best see fit.

Trust-based philanthropy recognizes that charities and nonprofits know their causes best—but most importantly, it gives them flexibility to spend fundraising revenue to prepare for future uncertainty, to support remote programming, train and retain key staff members, or serve new audiences. The trust-based model is increasingly popular, moving donors toward a more strategic and sustainable giving approach.

Give Generously to Support You Favorite Nonprofit Organizations

Last year marked the highest DAF grantmaking increase in a decade; grants from DAFs to nonprofits totaled an estimated $34.67 billion. Philanthropists quickly mobilized dollars for organizations on the frontline of the pandemic and helped longtime causes survive the economic uncertainty of the early days. Each and every nonprofit organization has been impacted by the events of the past 21 months, and they still need your help. By maximizing your year-end giving, you can ensure that nonprofits end 2021 with strong financial support and begin 2022 with everything they need in order to continue their mission in a changed world.

Remember that Giving Early is Key

Donors who make contributions into their DAFs on or before December 31 will be counted as a contribution for 2021. However, it’s best not to wait until the last minute, as it takes more time for complex assets (such as mutual funds, stocks and other securities) to become charitable capital. Because of this, we recommend that donors initiate these transfers as soon as possible during Giving Season. The same goes for contributions that will be mailed (like checks and stock certificates), as they will need to be postmarked by USPS by December 31.

Of course, the end of the year is a hectic time; donors who cannot contribute early can always contribute to their NPT DAF online with a credit card up until 11:59 PM EST on December 31, 2021.

Leave Additional Time for Review

Timing is everything, and that is most certainly the case when it comes to year-end giving. For instance, because so many nonprofits have annual fundraising efforts that end December 31, if a grant is not received by that date, the donation may not be included in a final tally. To ensure that grants meet this deadline, it is better to be ahead of schedule. Every grant from an NPT DAF goes through a due dilligence review process, so extra time allows peace of mind for everyone involved.

NPT is here to help you navigate year-end giving. Our Donor Relations team has extended its hours to ensure we are on call to help you through the necessary steps for year-end contributions and grantmaking, and to answer any questions.

For further assistance, please call us at (888) 878-7900 or email

Read our 2022 tips here.

NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained here may vary depending on individual circumstances.