A significant number of U.S. community foundations saw their asset growth stall in fiscal year 2018, following a 19 percent jump in total community foundation assets in FY17, a survey by CF Insights, a service of Candid, finds.
Based on a survey of more than two hundred and fifty community foundations that collectively hold more than 90 percent of the field's assets, the 2018 Columbus Survey report found that total assets increased 0.12 percent on a year-over-year basis, to $86.8 billion. While organizations whose fiscal year ended in June or earlier saw median asset growth of 9 percent, those operating on a calendar-year basis saw a median decrease of 3 percent, reflecting market declines in November and December and bringing overall median asset growth to 0.8 percent, down from 12.6 percent in FY17. Total assets for a matched subset of the one hundred largest community foundations — which had seen steady growth since FY09 — increased by slightly more than 1 percent, to $79.5 billion.
According to the Columbus Survey Results Dashboard, foundations responding to the survey received gifts totaling $10.5 billion in FY18, with a median fundraising increase of 8.1 percent — up from 7.1 percent the previous year — and nearly a third of respondents reporting increases of more than 50 percent. The survey also found that the median increase in grantmaking totals was 10 percent for a second consecutive year.
The 2018 survey includes additional data on donor-advised funds, which accounted for between 11 percent of assets at community foundations with less than $25 million in assets to more than a third at those with at least $250 million in assets. In FY18, aggregate assets held in DAFs increased 2 percent on a year-over-year basis, to $30.6 billion. Contributions to DAFs also increased 2 percent, to $6 billion, while grant dollars distributed by DAFs rose 4 percent, to $5.4 billion. The median payout rate for DAFs in FY18 was 10.6 percent, well above the median payout rate of 6 percent across community foundations as a whole, and at more than a third (39 percent) of the surveyed foundations, the flow rate for DAFs exceeded 100 percent.
The survey also found that for community foundations in every asset-size cohort except those with less than $25 million, the median budget-to-asset ratio was slightly higher than in FY17 — "an effect," according to CF Insights director David Rosado, "of slowed asset growth, coupled with increasing budgets that reflect many in the field increasing their focus on community foundation-led initiatives and leadership efforts."
"This dashboard was designed to evolve with the conversation around the community foundation field while continuing to provide an up-to-date, collective financial snapshot," said Rosado. "We're excited to share these latest enhancements, including the addition of two new data points related to donor-advised funds, to help inform broader conversations about trends in the field."