November 14, 2013

Donor-Advised Fund Accounts Gained $13.7 Billion in 2012

‘Fiscal cliff’ and threat to charitable tax deduction opened donor purses

Donor-advised funds experienced double-digit growth in assets and contributions in 2012, according to National Philanthropic Trust’s eighth annual report.

The report, published Monday, detailed an 18.9% growth in assets under management to $45.4 billion, up from a revised $38.1 billion in 2011. 

Contributions to DAFs grew by 34.6% to $13.7 billion. This represents more than 4% of all charitable giving or upward of 6% of all individual giving in the U.S.

“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 DAFs — sparked especially dramatic growth in DAF accounts and contributions in the last quarter of 2012,” Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, said in a statement. 

“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 its threat to change the charitable tax deduction.”

NPT’s DAF report uses data primarily from IRS Form 990 filings to provide up-to-date and reliable analysis of the DAF market. The 2013 report examined 1,007 charitable organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds, including national charities, community foundations and other sponsoring charities. 

Other key findings from the 2013 report:

  • Grant making was estimated at $8.6 billion, up 6.7% over 2011.
  • The number of DAF accounts increased by 7% in 2012, to 201,631, while the number of private foundations grew by 4%.
  • The payout rate slowed slightly for 2012, to 16%, reflecting the rapid rise in DAF assets alongside a modest rise in grants from DAFs. Payout rates from 2007 through 2012 annually exceed 15%, three times the mandated 5% minimum payout rate of private foundations.

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