Donor-Advised Fund Growth

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s new issue showcases its annual survey of large managers of donor-advised funds (subscription required). The online version features searchable and sortable data for DAFs going back to 2002 – a philanthropy geek’s dream.

The Chronicle compiled data from 62 of the largest DAF managers, a mix of foundations connected to financial companies, community foundations, religious organizations, universities, and others. The top 5 in asset size are in the top 20 of all types of foundations. For the group of 62, from 2007 to 2011:

  • Assets grew 10%
  • Grants to nonprofits grew 17%
  • Donor gifts to DAFs decreased 9% but increased 47% from 2009-11

The Foundation Center’s data on independent, community, and corporate foundations is only caught up to 2009 so we can’t yet make current side-by-side comparisons. But it appears that DAFs will continue to beat other foundations in growth of size and generosity.  In March, the The Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that the top 10 independent foundations’ assets dropped around 25% from 2007 to 2011. Their combined grantmaking held steady, a figure skewed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 47% increase in grants during that period. And its survey of a larger set of large foundations showed that those foundations expected to give the same or slightly less in 2012.

The news for nonprofits remains the same: go where the money is growing and where you can create emotional connections with living wealthy donors, e.g. donors with DAFs instead of the same old list of big funders.