Grants awarded from donor-advised funds in the United States in 2017 totaled a record $19.08 billion, up 19.9 percent from 2016, a report from the National Philanthropic Trust finds.
Based on an analysis of data from nearly a thousand charitable organizations that sponsor DAFs, including national charities, community foundations, and other sponsoring charities, NPT's 2018 Donor-Advised Fund Report found that contributions to DAF accounts increased 16.5 percent, to $29.23 billion, on a year-over-year basis, while total assets available for grantmaking increased 27.3 percent, to $110.01 billion, and the aggregate payout rate rose to 22.1 percent, up from 20.6 percent in 2016, interrupting a downward slide from a high of 24.7 percent in 2010.
According to the report, DAFs remained the fastest-growing giving vehicle in the U.S. in 2017, with the number of DAF accounts surging 60.2 percent, to 463,622, while the average size of a DAF account fell 20.5 percent, to $237,356, from $298,628 in 2016.
This year, for the first time, the report includes a brief analysis of the types of assets contributed to DAFs. Representing 61.5 percent of the 2017 total, the data set shows that approximately 60 percent of DAF contributions were non-cash assets, with the vast majority of those being publicly traded securities. Contributions of LLC partnership interests also increased, from 4 percent of all non-cash contributions in 2012 to 6 percent in 2017.
"Growth in donor-advised funds reflects the charitable instinct of Americans, who are among the most generous donors in the world," said NPT president and CEO Eileen Heisman. "Tax reform drove many to 'pre-fund' their philanthropy in 2017, when the value of their tax deduction could be higher. A booming stock market and a tense political climate spurred generosity and helped donors support the values and causes they embrace."