Donor-Advised Funds Show 18% Asset Growth; 16% Payout in 2012

The 2013 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the source for statistics on donor-advised funds (DAFs), details double-digit growth in assets and contributions in 2012.

The report, published since 2006, by National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), found significant increases in both the creation of and giving to DAFs, including an 18.9 percent growth in assets under management, now totaling $45.35 billion. Contributions to DAFs grew by 34.6 percent, totaling $13.71 billion – representing more than 4 percent of all charitable giving or more than 6 percent of all individual giving in the U.S.

The report primarily uses data from IRS Form 990 filings to provide the most up-to-date and reliable analysis of the DAF market. The 2013 DAF Report examined 1,007 charitable organizations (the highest number ever analyzed for the report) that sponsor donor-advised funds, including national charities, community foundations and other sponsoring charities.

Key findings include:

  • Total assets under management in all donor-advised funds accounts were $45.35 billion. This is an increase of 18.9 percent from a revised total of $38.14 billion and continues the steep growth trajectory that started in 2011.
  • Contributions increased to $13.71 billion, or 34.6 percent compared with 2011 contributions, which are revised to $10.19 billion based on the new charitable sponsors tracked.
  • Grant-making is estimated at $8.62 billion, representing an increase of 6.7 percent compared with 2011, which is revised to $8.08 billion with the data about additional donor-advised fund sponsors.
  • The number of donor-advised fund accounts increased by 7 percent in 2012, to 201,631 (from 177,357 in 2011), while the number of private foundations grew by 4 percent. This is the second year of rapid growth since 2008. The number of accounts at Single-Issue Charities rose by 11.4 percent; Community Foundations increased by 3.3 percent; and National Charities increased by 7.5 percent.
  • For 2012, the payout rate slowed slightly to 16.0 percent, reflecting the rapid rise in DAF assets alongside a modest rise in grants from DAFs. Payout rates from 2007 through 2012 annually exceed 15 percent, three times the mandated 5 percent minimum payout rate of private foundations. This level of grant-making resulted from donors who wanted to give generously through challenging economic times.