DAFs have grown substantially in philanthropic importance over the last 15 years. Giving is currently up among the organizations interviewed by NPT over the course of March and April.
DAFs have grown substantially in philanthropic importance over the last 15 years. In 2007, before the Great Recession, the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) reports that assets in donor-advised funds totaled $31.97 billion nationally (or $39.8 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars). By 2018, that number had increased 200 percent after adjusting for inflation to $121.42 billion. One oft-cited rationale for donor-advised funds (DAFs) is that they serve as charitable savings accounts that can be drawn upon if the economy goes south—the proverbial “saving for a rainy day.” In this coronavirus-induced downturn, NPQ revealed interesting results in the midst of over 26 million having already joined the ranks of the unemployed in the course of five weeks. NPT’s Donor-Advised Fund Report data shows that payouts of DAFs did increase during the Great Recession—but perhaps less than the “rainy day” metaphor might suggest. All told, DAF giving is currently up among all of the organizations interviewed over the course of March and April. The leaders all expect their annual payout rates to be higher than 2019’s, though these are preliminary perspectives just six weeks into the crisis. Trends will need to be watched as the year, and the profoundly wounded economy, proceed.