Contributions to donor-advised funds totaled $13.71 billion in 2012, a 34.6 percent increase over the previous year, a report from the National Philanthropic Trust finds.
According to the trust's 2013 Donor-Advised Fund Report (HTML or PDF, 20 pages), an annual compilation and analysis of data from 1,007 charitable organizations that administer DAFs, contributions to donor-advised funds accounted for more than 4 percent of all charitable giving in the U.S. in 2012 — and more than 6 percent of giving by individuals. The report also found that total assets managed by DAFs grew 18.9 percent, from $38.14 billion in 2011 to $45.35 billion in 2012 — the largest year-over-year increase since NPT began publishing the report in 2006. Among types of organizations that sponsor DAFs, national charities received $6.53 billion in contributions, community foundations received $4.28 billion, and single-issue charities received $2.91 billion.
According to the report, grants awarded by DAFs reached a new high of $8.62 billion in 2012, up 6.7 percent from 2011, while the number of DAF accounts increased 7 percent, to 201,631. At the same time, the payout rate of donor-advised funds slowed slightly, to 16 percent, reflecting the rapid rise in DAF assets combined with a modest rise in DAF grantmaking. Still, the report found that DAF payout rates from 2007 through 2012 consistently exceeded 15 percent.
"The economic 'fiscal cliff' at year-end and the debate on Capitol Hill about the status of the charitable tax deduction — as well as increased awareness of the flexibility and functionality of DAFs — sparked especially dramatic growth in DAF accounts and contributions in the last quarter of 2012," said NPT president and CEO Eileen Heisman. "Looking forward, I expect next year's report will also reveal a second year of back-to-back record increases for key metrics in the DAF market related to the fiscal cliff and [Congress'] threat to change the charitable tax deduction."